EarlyBird Check-In is an option giving you the convenience of automatic check-in before our traditional 24-hour check-in. As an EarlyBird Check-In Customer, you’ll have the benefit of an earlier boarding position, a better opportunity to select your preferred available seat, and earlier access to overhead bin storage for your carryon luggage.
EarlyBird Check-In pricing starts at $15. Pricing may vary based on the popularity and length of each (one-way) flight. A credit card must be used for the purchase of EarlyBird Check-In. Please review our optional travel charges for more details.
EarlyBird Check-In purchases are non-refundable. Customers who cancel their flight will forfeit the previously purchased EarlyBird Check-In option for that particular flight.
In the event that a flight is canceled by Southwest, we recognize that the decision was not within the Customer’s control and will process a refund of the EarlyBird Check-In purchase on Wanna Get Away® and Wanna Get Away Plus™ fares for that particular flight in the Customer’s itinerary. The purchaser’s credit card will be refunded within seven business days. If you do not receive the EarlyBird Check-In refund in this time frame, then please contact us for further assistance.
While EarlyBird Check-In doesn't guarantee an A boarding position, it improves your seat selection options to help you get your favorite seat.
New for 2022, EarlyBird Check-In is included with the purchase of an Anytime fare. Customers who purchase an Anytime fare will automatically be checked in to their flight 36 hours prior to scheduled departure—that’s 12 hours before our traditional 24-hour check-in. You will receive an earlier boarding position, improved seat selection, and earlier access to overhead bins. Please note, for Anytime fares purchased between 36 and 24 hours, the boarding position assignment process has begun so this may impact the boarding position assigned to you. If you purchase an Anytime fare within 24 hours of your flight’s scheduled departure, you will not receive the EarlyBird Check-In benefit. In an irregular operations situation, resulting in a change in itinerary, you will be assigned the best available boarding position at the time of reaccommodation.
Customers who have purchased Wanna Get Away or Wanna Get Away Plus fares can benefit from purchasing EarlyBird Check-In. Priority boarding privileges are already included with the purchase of Business Select ® fares and are a benefit of being a Rapid Rewards ® A-List Preferred or A-List Member or a Passenger on a reservation that includes an A-List Preferred or A-List Member. EarlyBird Check-In is included with the purchase of an Anytime fare. EarlyBird Check-In can be purchased up to 36 hours prior to a flight's scheduled local departure time. Note : EarlyBird Check-In should not be purchased (1) for Passengers on the same reservation as an A-List or an A-List Preferred Member as they will receive priority boarding or (2) Unaccompanied Minors since they will preboard the flight. Please review our Unaccompanied Minor Policies for more details.
EarlyBird Check-In Customers will have their boarding positions reserved beginning 36 hours prior to their flight's scheduled local departure time. Boarding passes can be accessed beginning 24 hours prior to the flight's scheduled local departure time.
Yes. Customers who have purchased Anytime fares receive priority over Customers who purchase EarlyBird Check-In with Wanna Get Away Plus and Wanna Get Away fares. Customers who purchase EarlyBird Check-In with Wanna Get Away Plus receive priority over Customers who purchase EarlyBird Check-In with Wanna Get Away fares. Boarding positions are assigned based on the time stamp of the EarlyBird Check-In purchase relative to Passengers within the same fare product.
EarlyBird Check-In can be purchased on Southwest.com®, over the phone, and on the app up to 36 hours prior to a flight's scheduled local departure time. Purchase EarlyBird Check-In here.
EarlyBird Check-In can be purchased as part of the original flight purchase or added to a flight after purchase.
No. All eligible Customers can purchase EarlyBird Check-In.
Yes, if EarlyBird Check-In is purchased and added to an existing itinerary. If EarlyBird Check-In is purchased within the same transaction as the air purchase, then all eligible Customers must purchase EarlyBird Check-In as well.
Yes. In the event that we must cancel a flight, we recognize that the decision was not within the Customer’s control and will process a refund of the EarlyBird Check-In purchase for that particular flight in the Customer’s itinerary. The purchaser’s credit card will be refunded within seven business days. If you do not receive the EarlyBird Check-In refund in this time frame, please contact us for further assistance.
If EarlyBird Check-In is purchased as part of the original flight purchase, then it will be listed in the Customer’s air confirmation email. If purchased separately, then the Customer will receive a separate EarlyBird Check-In receipt at the email address listed in the itinerary.
No. After adding EarlyBird Check-In, your existing confirmation number and travel details remain the same.
EarlyBird Check-In can be transferred only if the new flight departs more than 25 hours from the time of the change. If the new flight departs in less than 25 hours, then you will lose your non-refundable EarlyBird Check-In purchase. Additionally, if the change to your reservation involves a new city pair(s), you will need to contact us to have the EarlyBird Check-In transferred.
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How to Hack Southwest’s Boarding Groups
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Table of Contents
How does Southwest boarding work?
What is the southwest boarding order, how to get your southwest boarding position, how to get the best seat on southwest airlines, southwest family boarding: how to sit together, other ways to get get a good seat on southwest, southwest seating chart, when you're not happy with your southwest boarding number, southwest boarding groups, recapped.
The Southwest Airlines boarding process is a practice perhaps more polarizing than whether pineapple belongs on pizza. But one thing’s for sure: The Southwest boarding process is certainly unique.
There are no assigned seats. There’s no guarantee you’ll get that coveted window seat behind the exit row (which means no seat directly in front of you). There’s no guarantee you’ll end up seated next to your bestie.
Yet it also means you get to pick your seat from whatever is available once on the plane. If the guy in row three has already whipped out his tuna sandwich, maybe you opt for a seat at least a few rows back.
The Southwest boarding process is also theoretically more efficient (at least according to MythBusters ) than most boarding systems with assigned seats. So how does the process work? We unpack Southwest’s boarding method to help you get the best seat on your flight.
Rather than assigning seats to passengers, Southwest has an open seating style. As far as determining who gets to pick their seats in which order, here’s how it works:
A Southwest boarding group (either A, B, or C) and position (1-60) will be assigned to you at check-in and it'll be printed on your boarding pass. Group A boards first, then group B, and afterwards group C.
If you end up with A1, then it’s your lucky day — you’ll likely get to be the first passenger on the plane. There may be some exceptions for people with certain disabilities, pre-boarders or people on an earlier connecting flight.
Here’s what a boarding pass with the boarding position looks like. This passenger will board with group A and has a boarding position of 40.
If you like to be the first on the plane, aiming for boarding group A is a good idea. If you end up with C60, well, hopefully, you’re fine with the middle seat near the bathroom.
As the gate agent prepares the plane for boarding, they’ll call boarding groups (e.g., Group A, 1-30). From there, you’ll have to head to one of the numbered posts at the gate area, broken up into smaller blocks (e.g., position 1-5). Stand between the corresponding posts based on your boarding position.
Once onboard, pick any open seat, stow your stuff in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you, and get ready for takeoff.
Here’s the order of Southwest's boarding groups, from first to last:
Southwest allows people who have a specific seating need to accommodate their disability, who need boarding help, extra time, or who need help stowing an assistive device to board first. To be a part of that group, you’ll have to request preboarding from a Southwest customer service agent at the ticket desk or departure gate.
Expect to be asked what Southwest calls "fact-finding questions" to decide if you meet the qualifications for pre-boarding. If you do, you’ll receive a boarding pass with a specific preboarding designation, and you’ll be allowed to preboard with one companion. If you’re traveling with more than one other person, they’ll typically have to board with their original group.
People who are preboarding are not allowed to occupy an exit row seat.
2. The A group
The first set of people to board Southwest flights are people with seats in A1-A15, which is typically filled with Southwest elite flyers, people who purchased Southwest Business Select fares and those who paid extra for their tickets before boarding (you can purchase any leftover upgraded boarding positions in the A1-A15 category either online through Southwest's upgraded boarding portal within 24 hours of departure, or at the gate).
The rest of the A group follows with A16-60.
3. Other people with disabilities
If you don’t qualify for preboarding but need extra time to board, you can board after the A group but before the following Family Boarding and B groups. You’ll still need to speak to a Southwest customer service agent, who will print you a new boarding pass with an extra time designation, indicating that you can board with this group.
4. Families and active-duty military in uniform
If you’re traveling with a child 6 years old or younger, you and up to one other adult can board during Family Boarding, which occurs before the B group. Active military traveling in uniform may also board during this time.
5. Groups B and C
Everyone else now gets to board, with the B group going next. And for large and full flights, there’s a C group. Both groups board in numerical order starting with position 1 and moving to position 60.
There are a few ways to get an early Southwest boarding position, but many of them come at an extra cost. If you don’t want to pay anything more than what the Wanna Get Away, Wanna Get Away Plus or Anytime fares already cost, your boarding position will be decided based on the order you’ve checked in.
You can check in online at Southwest.com or on the app beginning 24 hours before your flight's scheduled departure time. Or, you can check in at the airport or with an agent at the airport. But, the longer you wait, the worse the boarding position you’ll have.
Set a calendar reminder or phone timer for that 24-hour mark (maybe even a few minutes early to get the webpage loaded and logged in) to make sure you get as early a boarding position as possible.
Everyone has a different favorite seat on an airplane, but the easiest way to get the best seat on Southwest is to have an A1-15 boarding group position. Since this is the first group to board, you’ll have your pick of nearly any seat on the plane. Here are three ways to guarantee an A1-15 group position on Southwest, but it’s going to cost you:
Buy a Business Select fare
Business Select fares come with many perks including Fly By priority lane access, a complimentary premium drink, and yes, guaranteed receipt of an A1-A15 boarding position.
Business Select fares are not cheap. They can often be multiple times more expensive than Wanna Get Away fares, but they tend to be a better deal than Southwest’s middle tier called Anytime fares.
If you’re willing to pay for a seat upgrade, it’s almost always better to opt for Business Select over Anytime fares because you’ll get benefits like elevated points earning and the guarantee of a good seat.
Buy upgraded boarding when available
While not quite a guarantee, Southwest allows you to buy any remaining A1-A15 boarding position on for an extra fee. You can purchase that either on the day of travel at the ticket desk or gate, or within 24 hours of takeoff on Southwest's website .
It’s $30, $40, or $50 per segment depending on your itinerary. These positions are not assigned to regular ticket customers once the 24-hour check-in window begins, so if the flight is low on elite flyers or Business Select passengers, there may be some available for purchase.
Some cards, such as the The Platinum Card® from American Express , The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card , can offset the cost of upgraded boarding by offering a $200 airline incidental credit , which is an annual statement credits toward incidental air travel fees with one qualifying airline of your choice.
Use a Southwest credit card to get complimentary upgraded boarding (when available)
As a benefit of having the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card or the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card , you’ll be reimbursed for up to four upgraded boardings to positions A1-A15 every anniversary year.
The process is the same as anyone else purchasing upgraded boarding. You’ll have to buy it on the day of travel at the ticket desk or gate, and it’s only for sale if seats are available. But no matter the cost — whether $30 or $50 — you’ll get that four times a year in the form of a credit reimbursement.
Those boardings can be purchased all at once or for different flights, so you could opt to upgrade your posse once or give yourself the VIP treatment a few times throughout the year.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards
As mentioned above, families (two adults traveling with a child six years or younger) will board after Group A but before Group B. If the child and adult both have Group A assigned on their boarding pass, they can board along with Group A in their allocated boarding position.
However, this still doesn’t guarantee you’ll sit together, especially if your boarding position is A50. The best way to ensure you sit together and where you want, is to buy a Business Select fare, upgrade your boarding pass or have the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card or the Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card .
These choices won’t guarantee an A boarding position like the recommendations above, but they’ll still put you ahead of others who try to check in online 24 hours out or at the airport ahead of their flight:
Have Southwest status
Customers with Rapid Rewards A-List Preferred or A-List Member status get their boarding position automatically reserved 36 hours before departure. That's before normal check-in begins, putting them ahead of everyone else who has to wait for that 24-hour window. The benefit also applies to other travelers on the same reservation as A-List Preferred or A-List Members.
While holding Southwest status is not a guarantee of an A position (e.g., if everyone else on the flight also had A-List Preferred or A-List status), it will get you the earliest position available and most often lands you in the A1-A15 positions.
Buy EarlyBird Check-In
EarlyBird Check-In is an add-on to your ticket that automatically checks you in 36 hours before the flight's scheduled departure time. That puts you in the running for the best boarding position next to the folks with Southwest status or Anyime and Business Select fares, and ahead of everyone else who has to wait for the 24-hour window.
EarlyBird Check-In typically costs $15-$25 one-way per passenger on top of your fare price.
As far as how the order of EarlyBird Check-In is decided amongst everyone who pays for it: Boarding positions are assigned based on the time that EarlyBird Check-In was bought relative to passengers within the same fare class. So Wanna Get Away Plus passengers will be checked in ahead of Wanna Get Away passengers with EarlyBird.
EarlyBird does not guarantee a boarding position, but it does increase your odds of getting in a better boarding position. Often, you’ll find yourself in A20 or better with EarlyBird check-in.
If you’re trying to decide what’s a good seat on your Southwest flight, head over to Seatguru. Once there, type in your travel date and flight number to choose your flight.
Oftentimes, Seatguru will show several aircraft configurations for a specific flight. For Southwest, Seatguru features three aircraft seating charts: Boeing 737 MAX 8, Boeing 737-700 and Boeing 737-800. Make sure the aircraft type you’re on matches the result provided by Seatguru.
After you’ve confirmed that, take a look at the seat reviews. The seats on the plane will either be green, yellow, red or white. Green means it's a great seat (usually with extra legroom), yellow means there is some drawback (like limited recline), red shows several drawbacks (such as a misaligned window and near the bathroom).
Seats that are white have no pros and no cons, they are just regular seats for the cabin.
If you’re cool with checking your luggage should the overhead bins get too stuffed, and your life isn’t over if you get the middle seat, then don’t panic if you get in the C group.
But if you need to be among the first to board, and you checked in late enough that you ended up with a bad boarding position, your best bet is to pay the $30-$50 for an A1-15 boarding position, either in-person at the airport or online.
If Business Select is sold out, you’re probably out of luck on purchasing upgraded boarding. Next time, consider purchasing EarlyBird Check-In or booking a higher fare class to begin with. Or, keep it simple and accept that the middle seat isn’t all that bad.
On the bright side, it’s one less person you have to bug when you need a bathroom break than if you had taken the window seat anyway.
Southwest offers three boarding groups (A, B or C), and a position 1-60+, which get assigned at check-in. While the Southwest boarding process can be confusing at first glance, remember this: Check in exactly 24 hours before your flight, and most of the time you’ll be OK.
Or, be prepared to pony up some extra cash for expensive tickets or upgraded boarding passes. Know which of your credit cards may offer airline credits to offset these fees, as they can get you out of a jam when you miss the check-in deadline.
If you’re traveling with a larger group with multiple reservation numbers, everyone needs to handle their business and check in separately if you want any shot at getting boarding positions near each other.
Southwest follows an open seating style, meaning there are no assigned seats. You’ll be assigned a boarding group (either A, B, or C) and position (1-60+) upon check-in, which determines your boarding order. Once on board, you choose your seat. If you’re last to board, you likely won’t get to sit with your family.
However, Southwest has a solution to better ensure families can sit together. If you’re traveling with a child 6 years old or younger, up to two adults may board during Southwest’s Family Boarding period, between A and B boarding (unless both the child and adults have A boarding passes and can board in that earlier group).
For an additional fee, EarlyBird Check-In automatically checks you in ahead of the traditional 24-hour check-in. While it’s not a guarantee of the coveted A boarding group, you’ll end up in an earlier boarding position than if you had not paid for it.
Considering families with children 6 and under can board before the B group anyway, paying for EarlyBird Check-In is usually not worth it for those families.
However, if you have children older than 6 but you don’t want to risk that your family can’t sit together (and you don’t want to deal with asking someone else to trade seats on your 8-year-old’s behalf), it can make sense to pay for EarlyBird Check-In.
Your Southwest boarding group is determined upon check-in. The earlier you check in, the earlier your boarding group.
Typically, you’ll check in for your flight online beginning 24 hours before the scheduled departure time or anytime thereafter. If you don’t, you can check in and get your boarding pass at the airport through the Southwest ticket counter or, if available, a self-service kiosk.
However, you can secure an earlier boarding position by purchasing a Business Select fare, purchasing EarlyBird Check-In that automatically reserves your boarding position 36 hours before departure, or by purchasing an upgraded boarding pass from the counter on the day of travel (when available).
Generally, yes. Since Southwest-operated flights have open seating, you simply choose any available seat once on board.
There are a few exceptions, such as passengers who preboard may not occupy an exit seat.
Seniors do not get priority boarding on Southwest.
There is priority boarding for customers who have a specific seating need to accommodate their disability or who need assistance in boarding the aircraft or stowing an assistive device. In that case, you’ll board before Family Boarding, between the A and B groups.
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Southwest Air Trip
Southwest Seat Selection Policy
Southwest Seat Selection -Can you pick your seats on Southwest?
From the comfort of your own home, you can now easily select a seat for your upcoming Southwest Airlines flight. With a few simple clicks, you can ensure you get the perfect seat for your upcoming journey. With the latest technology, Southwest Airlines makes it easy to choose the perfect seat for your next adventure. This post will explore the different Southwest seat selection options, how to select a seat and the best options for different types of travelers.
Whether you’re a business traveler looking for extra legroom or an adventure seeker searching for the perfect window seat, we have you covered! So buckle up, and let’s get started!
What is Southwest Airlines Seat Selection Policy?
When you book a Southwest flight, you will typically be assigned a seat at the time of booking. The Southwest seat selection policy varies depending on the type of fare you book and other factors. For example, passengers booking a Business Select fare can select their seats at the time of booking, while those booking a Wanna Get Away fare may not be able to select their seats until check-in.
Rules for Selecting a Seat on Southwest Flights
- When you check in for your flight, you will generally be assigned a seat. Southwest Boarding group has positions 1-60 under groups A, B, or C, where you get seats.
- Your boarding group information also decides when you will board the plane.
- If you have selected a seat at the time of booking, you may be asked to switch seats at check-in time. The only reason is that unless you have paid for a seat, it’s not yours and depends on FCFS.
- If you are traveling with a companion or family member and would like to select seats together, Southwest Airlines has a process to make that possible.
- When booking, you can select seats directly next to each other or in a group of three.
- Once you check-in, you can also request to be seated next to your companion or family member. Southwest Airlines will try to accommodate your request; however, it is not guaranteed.
- If you’re looking to upgrade to business Select southwest seats , you can select your seat at the time of booking. This makes it easier to get the seat you want and access features such as early boarding and more.
Overall, Southwest Airlines has a relatively straightforward seat selection policy. Whether you book a Business Select fare or Wanna Get Away fare, you have the ability to select your seat at the time of booking.
By understanding Southwest Airlines seat selection policy, you can make the most of your next flight and ensure you get the seat you want.
Can I Pick my favorite seats on Southwest flights?
Are you wondering if you can pick your own seats on Southwest Airlines? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Southwest Airlines allows customers to choose their own seat assignments before their flight. The seat selection on Southwest Airlines is designed to make finding and reserving your seat as easy as possible.
In addition, Southwest Airlines also offers the ability to select preferred seats for an additional fee. These seats are located in the front of the cabin and provide extra legroom. If you’d like to select a preferred seat, you can do so when you check-in online or at the airport. So, what are the rules for selecting Southwest Airlines seats? Before that, let’s walk you through the Seat selection process in detail.
How do I choose my own seats on Southwest Airlines?
The first step to Southwest Airlines Seat Selection is to check-in for your flight. You can check in online 24 hours before your scheduled flight via the Southwest website or app. Once you have checked in, follow the process below:
- After you check in, you will receive a confirmation number that you can use to select your seat.
- When you are ready to select your seat, you can visit the “Manage Your Trip” section of the Southwest website.
- Here, you can enter your confirmation number to see a seating chart of your aircraft.
- You’ll be able to view the available seats, their seat assignment code, and the cost (if any) associated with the seat.
- If you’re flying with a companion, you can also use the “Select Seats Together” feature to help you choose seat side by side. This feature is also available when you check in online.
Once you’ve selected your seat, you can make changes up to 10 minutes before your flight. If you need to change after this time frame, you’ll need to speak to a Southwest Customer Service Agent.
How do you sit together on Southwest?
If you’re flying with a companion, you can also use the “Select Seats Together” feature to help you choose seat side by side. It’s important to note that Southwest Airlines does not assign seats. This means that you’re not guaranteed the seat you prefer. Since Southwest operates on a first-come, first-served basis, seats are available on the same rule. So, if you’re in a hurry and need to select a seat, you should do so as soon as possible.
Overall, Southwest air seat selection allows customers to select their own seats but won’t assign them by default. You can do so by checking in online, selecting a seat, and making changes up to 10 minutes before your flight. Finally, you can also select preferred seats for an additional fee.
Does southwest business select have bigger seats?
The short answer is yes; Southwest Business Select does have bigger seats. This is one of the many benefits of flying with Southwest Business Select.
Southwest Business Select seats are larger than Southwest’s Economy class seats and offer extra legroom. The seats also have extra padding and adjustable headrests, making them more comfortable and giving you a better overall experience.
In addition to the larger seats, Business Select offers other perks that make it a great choice for business travelers. For example, you’ll get priority boarding, which allows you to board the plane first and get your overhead luggage stored away quickly.
What is the Southwest Airlines seating map?
Southwest is a great airline, and it offers different seating options for the convenience of flyers. While talking about the seat map, the airline has different seat dimensions in different aircraft. However, this airline only operates Boeing 737 aircraft but has three different models. All these models have different seating options. Let’s check out the seating option in these three aircraft.
Boeing 737-700 is the mostly operated aircraft by Southwest Airlines. 60% of the airline’s fleet has this aircraft model. Boeing 737-700 is 143-seater, and each seat is 31 inches tall and 17 inches wide.
This aircraft model is slightly bigger than the previous one, with a seating capacity of 175. All seats are 32 to 33 inches tall and 17 inches wide.
Boeing 737 MAX 8
Boeing 737 MAX 8 is the newest aircraft in the Southwest fleet size. The plane has 175 seats with a 32 to 33-inch pitch and 17-inch width.
These are the different aircraft options, or you can say the seating map of Southwest Airlines.
What are the best seats on Southwest Airlines?
Southwest Airlines has various seating options, and you can choose the seats as per your preferences. However, you can’t say directly which seat is the best. It only depends on your requirements. So, let’s check out which seating option will be the best as per your needs.
If you want extra legroom
Passengers who can’t compromise their comfort can simply choose exit-row seats for extra legroom. These seats provide extra space so that you can stretch your legs with much ease. Moreover, you can select seats in the first few rows of the flight as these seats have extra legroom.
If you are with kids
Seats at the back of the flight are the best options for flyers with children. The back seats are mostly vacant, and you can easily book seats together. Moreover, you will have the utmost privacy while sitting at the back of the plane.
If you are in a group
The best seat will depend upon the size of your group. If you are traveling in a group of 3, you must book the entire row for yourself. Southwest aircraft have three seats on each side of the flight. For a larger group, you must choose two rows together. For larger groups, the best seats will be at the back of the flight. A few rows at the back of the plane are perfect for group travelers.
If you are in a rush
If you wish to deboard the flight early, you must book seats in Row 1. However, there will be no storage space under your seat, but you will be among the first ones to deboard the flight. Moreover, you can opt for EarlyBird check-in to board the flight early. In that way, there are higher chances of getting the right seat so you can get off early.
You must select the seats as per your requirements so that you can fly comfortably to your destination.
How much does it cost to pick your seat on Southwest?
It is important to consider the cost of picking your seat on Southwest Airlines. Depending on the type of ticket purchased, picking a seat can range from free to as much as $50 for an Anytime Fare. Customers should always check the fare rules for additional seat selection fees. It is also important to note that Southwest does not offer pre-assigned seating, so customers should be aware of the Southwest Seat Selection policy before making a reservation.
If you want more details on Southwest Seat Selection, the cost of selecting a seat, or the entire process, call Southwest Airlines at 1 (800) 435-9792 and get the necessary answers.
Why can’t I choose my seat on Southwest Airlines?
Southwest Airlines does not allow passengers to choose their seats for various reasons. These reasons include Southwest’s desire to assign seats that evenly distributes weight to the aircraft, Southwest’s boarding process, and the cost of individual seat assignments. While the lack of seat selection may be inconvenient for some passengers, it is an important part of Southwest’s overall business model.
For more details, you can contact Southwest’s team or speak to a representative at Southwest Airlines . The agent will help you out and solve all the queries related to seat selection.
Disclaimer: Calm your travel plunge and do not just end it in the short breath with Southwestairtrip and the amazing facilities we offer. The major of our existence is to fulfill the major knowledge gap between you our customers and the Southwest airlines flights. We are not directly associated with southwest airlines, but we do guide you towards your exceptional vacations to major Southwest destinations. Clock remains ticking! Book a flight with Southwestairtrip for minimum fares.
The Travel Sisters
Tips on how to get a good seat on southwest airlines.
by Matilda | Mar 24, 2021 | Family Travel , Southwest , Tips | 103 comments
Learn how the Southwest Airlines seating process works.
Southwest Airlines has a unique open seating policy – basically, seats are not assigned. When you check in for your Southwest flight, you are assigned a boarding group. Your boarding group and position determine the order in which you will be allowed to board the flight. Upon boarding the flight, you may choose any open seat.
Learn about Southwest Airlines boarding groups.
When you check in for your Southwest flight, you are assigned a boarding group (A, B, or C) and a boarding position (1-60). During the Southwest boarding process , passengers are instructed to line up in order based on their boarding group and position. So, passengers holding A group boarding passes board first, then B, then C. Within each group, passengers will line up based on their numbers. For example, A1 will board before A20.
The key to getting a good seat on Southwest is, obviously, to board early.
I’ve found that an A group or early B group (B1-B30) is always sufficient to provide me with several good open seats and plenty of overhead bin space. B31-B60 can be okay too but it depends on how many people you are traveling with, how full the flight is and whether the flight is connecting from somewhere else. The C group usually means “center seat” and may require you to also gate check overhead bags.
Check in EXACTLY 24 hours before your flight.
If you would like to get a good seat on your next Southwest Airlines flight, follow this rule. Check in opens 24 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time. The earlier you check in, the earlier your spot in line will be. Many passengers will also be checking in 24 hours before the flight so a few minutes or seconds can make a big difference in your boarding group or position. This is especially true on weekdays. My strategy is to set an alarm or calendar entry five minutes before check in opens. I pull up my reservation, enter all the necessary details (name, confirmation number) and wait. As soon as the clock hits the time check-in opens, I hit that check in now button.
If you are unsure whether you will be able to check-in 24 hours prior to your flight, purchase Southwest EarlyBird Check-In.
I prefer not to spend any more money than I have to but found Southwest EarlyBird Check-In useful for those occasions I know I will not be able to manually check in. The cost for Southwest Early Bird Check In is $15 – $25 one-way per passenger depending on the length of flight and popularity. When you purchase EarlyBird Check-In, Southwest automatically checks you in and assigns your boarding position within 36 hours of your flight’s departure. Southwest Early Bird Check In does not guarantee an A boarding position, but you most likely will be in the A or early B group. (See related post : Is Southwest Early Bird Check In Worth It? ).
Pay even more money or fly more often to guarantee early boarding.
The only way to absolutely guarantee an A1-A15 boarding position on Southwest is to purchase a Business Select fare. This isn’t the most attractive option for leisure passengers though as the fare is more expensive.
If you still want a crack at that A1-A15 spot but don’t want to purchase a Business Select fare, you can try Upgraded Boarding . Warning: this is not a guaranteed option as it may not be available. On the day of travel, inquire at the gate or ticket counter before the boarding process begins. If Upgraded Boarding is available, you can secure a boarding position in the A1-A15 group for $30, $40 or $50 per flight, depending on your itinerary.
Note: If you have a Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business credit card (our referral links), you will be reimbursed for the purchase of up to 4 Upgraded Boardings each anniversary year .
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards members with A-List and A-List Preferred elite status get priority boarding ahead of general boarding.
Traveling with a child? Familiarize yourself with Southwest family boarding.
Children age six years or younger and a guardian may board during Southwest Family Boarding, which occurs after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group begins boarding. If you have an A group boarding pass, go ahead and board with the A group instead of waiting for family boarding.
Don’t arrive late to the gate for your flight.
I repeat, don’t arrive late to the gate for your Southwest flight. There is no point in having an A or B boarding group if you will show up to your flight right before the airplane door closes. Sometimes that can’t be helped if your connecting flight was delayed so I guess at that point, just sit in your middle seat and be thankful you caught your flight.
If you have an early boarding group but by the time you arrive at your gate they are boarding a later group, don’t be shy. Immediately step to the front of the line to scan your boarding pass. No one will think you are line cutting.
What is a best seat on Southwest?
The best seat on Southwest depends on your own personal needs. Passengers with a connecting flight might need to sit in the front so they can deplane quicker. Taller passengers might have an eye on snagging an exit row seat. Larger groups and families traveling with small children might want to make sure they can sit together. Personally, when traveling solo I like an aisle seat – especially one with an empty middle seat next to it. When traveling with my kids, I prefer sitting towards the back.
Find out how full the flight is before you board.
Sometimes Southwest gate agents make an announcement whether the flight is full. If not, I will ask. This is helpful in knowing whether I have a chance at my coveted aisle plus empty middle seat scenario. On a completely full Southwest flight, I would choose an aisle seat with the middle seat already occupied by someone I wouldn’t mind sitting next to. Similarly, it would be helpful for someone traveling with a lap child to know whether an empty middle seat might be available.
Choose wisely what section of the plane you pick a seat.
Obviously not an exact science but often, older travelers and those with connecting flights seem to choose the front of the plane. Families typically head towards the back, where they hope to find seats together and maybe an empty middle seat for a lap child. My sweet spot on Southwest flights is from the middle of the plane to two-thirds of the way back. The reasoning is that the front middle seats will fill up quickly with people resigned to their middle seat predicament or eager to disembark. Also, people tend to pass up the middle section of the plane in hopes a random aisle or window seat can be found at the back. Once they are at the back, they will likely just grab any seat there since it is so difficult to turn around.
Saving seats on Southwest Airlines is controversial and murky.
No one likes to spend any more money than they have to. For some passengers, this means resorting to “seat saving”. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what Southwest’s policy is on saving seats as it is not uniformly enforced. Many people won’t necessarily mind if someone is saving a middle seat next to them for a traveling companion that is close behind but some passengers take it to the extreme. I’ve witnessed one man board early and attempt to block off a number of seats (on a full flight) for multiple travel companions with a C group. The flight attendant intervened but that is not always the case.
Recognize sneaky and dishonest tactics.
Much like the extreme seat-savers, some people think getting a seat on a plane is a no-holds barred type of thing. I’ve heard of passengers attempting to keep seats empty by pretending a nonexistent/imaginary travel companion is simply in the bathroom. Not only is this dishonest but also silly- what happens if they sit nearby and clearly no one returns from the bathroom? Conflict with fellow passengers is never a good thing.
On the less extreme end, sometimes two people traveling together try to block off a middle seat. This is great for late boarders. If you spot one of these twosomes, make a beeline for their row and ask to sit in the middle. Most likely, they will offer up either their aisle or window seat.
Or you can sit in the middle of a couple and have them talk over you and pass things back and forth for four hours…my recent experience! But I guess sometimes you just get unlucky. But some of your other tips seem worth a try!
Ick, that sounds like a pretty bad flight!
Did you offer to switch seats with one of them?
My friend and I take an isle and a window, our personal preferences. If you take the middle we will not be moving which seems to surprise some passengers. If you are fun, join in our conversations
S Jumps I would join in on the conversation by asking why the two of you think you are worth three seats.
Best response ever
Did he say they’re worth two seats? Do they somehow make the third seat unavailable? NO! He said they both sit where they like and if someone comes to sit in the middle, that’s cool. They don’t swap seats just to be near their friends. Good God some people!
I would smack the shit out of your hands if you passed anything over me. I don’t mind getting apple juice all over me as long as it gets my point across.
You would then get your face smashed in and be on a breathing tube for the rest of your life… and yes, the jail time would be worth it
Are you and your friend portly people? You require that extra middle seat to share your snacks and arm rolls?
And I’d do a Taliban on your ass if you touched me
Yeah… That’s called “self-importance” and fits perfectly into how modern day people think of themselves and others. In a world of common decency, the person with the aisle seat would offer to switch with the person in the middle. It’s called “courtesy” but I’m guessing that doesn’t fit into your worldview, moron.
My girlfriend and I do this. Take the isle and window and hope no one comes. But if they do, the above is correct, we’ll offer them window. As I like Isle and my girlfriend will just move over.
Nobody is worth two seats. We just want to sit together. And we just try to pick who we’d prefer to sit with by offering them a seat. It’s no different than picking what middle seat you want to sit in by who’s already there.
Hey, you do what you have to do to be comfortable for a long flight.
You would think that because the passengers are doing all the work here, the tickets would be dirt cheap. Passengers also should be able to get their round trip tickets once and for all. This 24 hour nonsence is horrible, especially if you are away on vacation and 24 hours before you leave you have to remember to get your boarding pass arrangements done. Think about it,we go online, book our flight, go through the 24 hour process and get back online to arrange your own boarding passes. I have tried paying the extra $15 and ended up in Group C! What a ripoff! I did a lot of flying with Southwest, but have not because they do not try to improve any of this. It is a shame because they are a convenient airline for me with very little delays, free baggage, however, their prices have escalated which probably include baggage fees unknown to the passenger.
I guess you only fly SW and think the grass in greener, but SW often runs $100+ less than the competition Basic Economy. This is a new fare that is below economy. This doesn’t even included access to the overhead bin.
One more tips. Before you board, ask if flight is oversold. In lots of cases, the gate agent would let you preboard and sit in the first row so he/she could easily locate you if the flight is actually oversold and a volunteer is needed.
That’s a good one- thanks for sharing!
Unfortunately, I have seen many instances where one passenger purchases early-bird boarding and saves a seat for a traveling companion who boards later. The flight attendants do nothing.
Yeah, I’ve seen flight attendants let it slide too a few times but usually in those cases the second person wasn’t too far behind.
You should just tell them, “Oh, well where are they?” They should have been here if they wanted it.” That easy, seriously. If that is the case, tell them you had that seat they are in already saved before you got on the plane. If they complain or say I sat here first though, say, “Exactly” and just sit down. People are just too submissive.
Nice write up. One thing I’ve noticed is that the FA’S will keep preboarders from sitting in exit rows for obvious reasons. If the flight is super light just wait until everyone has boarded and then go toward the back. Most people want to sit up front. I’ve been on planes where it is totally full in the first 15 rows and nearly empty in the back. People are funny like that.
Thanks! You’re right, people are sometimes in a hurry just to get settled anywhere they grab the first open seat they find.
Thank – you so much for taking the time to write this excellent and complete guide. I’m sure many people, like me, have found very helpful
Who benefits from this idiotic seating policy? Wish Southwest would change this system. Boarding doesn’t move any faster.
Just fly elsewhere, this seating policy sucks.
I just wish southwest would make people with the those huge overstuffed over head bags sit in the back of the plane.I missed a connecting flight because I was seated further back and had to wait almost 30 minutes for families and people trying to maneuver those big bags.I never take extra bags.just a tote that fits under the seat.
I always just have one regulation size bag that goes in the overhead and is really easy to manage. If it takes that long to maneuver a bag it probably should just be checked in- bummer missing a connection.
I agree. Also one time I decided to put my computer bag up top and people kept trying to push their oversize baggage into it and when I got it out I found it was ripped from some idiot.
I also note the number of wheelchairs (all are pre-boarded along with family members traveling with the wheelchair passenger). These passengers take front seats. If a passenger requiring a wheelchair is traveling alone, however, I’ve noticed that the seats next to them are often open and available.
That’s a good one- especially if you need to be up front to catch a connection.
Some people don’t like the bulkhead seats because there are no trays so you have to hold drinks and or food. What i dont like is that those seats are not kept open for handicapped people who board when that flight was a continuing flight and those passengers are allowed to move to different seats. I had this happen when my handicapped mom and i were on a continuing flight and 2 other bigger guys moved to the bulkhead seats. Then there were handicapped passengers boarding who had to take further seats back. I think southwest needs to change that procedure. Another situation in which i voiced my opion mightily was when our flight was delayed and my mom, which they knew she was handicapped, didnt keep an open seat up front for her and i. We ended up way in the back with her in a middle seat and me in a middle seat further back. She is very hard of hearing so she kept looking at me everytime an announcement came over the pa. If the flight had had difficulty i would not b near her to help her. Its time southwest starts doing seat assignments. It takes just about the same amount of time or longer to board a southwest flight as other airlines. It would b so much easier particularly with all the stupid people who bring big duffles etc on board.
Southwest is Southwest. You really need to fly with someone else. Why would you want to change the only airline with unassigned seating? So many of us love their procedures. I’m partially handicapped. I don’t expect people to wait on me, just give me a little more time. As long as I can get on that plane and get a seat…I’m happy to be going. I love Southwest.
I agree. Southwest is southwest. Overall their my airline of choice domestically for short to mid-range flights. Each airline has different boarding procedures so it sounds like individuals that need customized travel options should go with another carrier. I sometimes do this when I travel. For example when I’m flying to coast to coast or a two to three convection I go with another carrier.
From these comments I think I will stick with United and know I have the seat I want
My son is handicapped and we usually take the first seats. Why? because he cannot walk very far and its easier. We don’t mind waiting to be the last off, as its much easier because they have the wheelchair waiting for us it lets all the others go ahead so there is no waiting. Yes we stay on the plane and do not change but we also stay in the same seats I cannot move to another seat as he is unable to communicate People have difference reasons for staying with the person that is handicapped. besides not able to walk very far he is also mentally chanallanged
I am handicapped and endured the same situation where people were already seated in the first row. I was confused cause there was no handicap first row. I asked the flight attendant where the handicap seating was and she flippantly gestured to the entire plane. I had to tell her that according to the law you must provide accomodations to the handicapped. She immediately changed her tune and asked for volunteers to move. I felt so empowered after that.
Great tips. I have seen many with an imaginary friend, some with two. They simply put all of their things on every seat in a row. Once an FA told somebody like that that they know all the tricks and made her move her stuff. Also encountered somebody with a high B ticket who said that she could stand at the very front of the B line. Even though several of us pointed out that she needs to find her number, she insisted on being in the front. I like Southwest because of their free luggage policy and the ability to bank money when changes are made.
It’s pretty funny when someone gets called out for sketchy behavior. Agree, Southwest’s change policy has come in handy more than a few times for me.
I could have really used these tips when I was selling travel! Great post!
Thanks glad you found them helpful!
The seating policy is the main reason I choose to not fly Southwest. Only time it’s beneficial for me is if I’m traveling with my toddler and get to take advantage of family boarding. Plus, I hate Midway.
I am kinda neutral on the seating policy but it does seem like most people either love or hate it.
I agree! Midway is a drag. I live close to ORD and I’m dreading that I had to book with Southwest out of Midway. Way cheaper and with my trip being in January I needed the flexibility to change if the weather was bad (cruise) and other airlines had little to no nonstop to Houston Hobby. Oh love the not nickel and dining you tho (bags,seats etc) that other airlines do.
its not so much the seating policy for me as it is the 3×3. Why not a 4 and a 2? id pay extra for the 2. would you?
Would love a 4 by 2 as well. I don’t particularly like sitting next to strangers as I require a lot of personal space.
Only fly 2-3 times per year; 3×3 ? Or 4×2 ? Hate the seating policy, love to sit with my wife. I must have an isle sit; I am extreame Claus-tro-pho-bic. The anxiety starts the day before the flight, and gets worse until the flight is over & then the return home!!! Most times the flight booking is done by someone else. When I am in control, I fly with other carriers. BTW, the horrible Clause -Tro-Pho-Bic Anxiety began 50 yrs ago by being pinned down in fire fights in war
Explain this; I check in to a flight the second it’s available and get B15. My friend checks in to the same flight hours later and gets A25. What’s up with that?
I am guessing your friend might have paid for EarlyBird check-in or maybe has A-List status.
I’m traveling for first time on Southwest with 5 family members (adults) and now worried this was bad decision. Nothing like getting stressed the first day of vacation! Suprised there haven’t been numerous altercations.
I don’t think it was necessarily a bad decision as there are a lot of positives about flying Southwest. You should be able to sit together as long as you can board early (in As or low Bs). I recommend putting an alarm and checking in exactly 24 hours before the flight time OR purchasing EarlyBird check-in. If you want to save money, 3 of you can pay for EarlyBird check-in and save the middle seats. I think seat saving is more an issue when 1 person is saving a lot of seats especially those in the aisle or window. On a positive note, I find that Southwest has more legroom than other airlines so you should have a more comfortable flight. Plus they don’t charge for checked bags.
Southwest planes are the DIRTIEST in the industry. Be sure to take disinfecting wipes with you and DON’T use the lavatory
Maybe that’s why the SW planes are so dirty. People aren’t using the bathrooms!
You should carry wipes no matter what plane you’re on. Some people are just nasty and the flight turn arounds aren’t enough time to clean up properly. This or they just don’t care enough.
I’ve written a guide (for myself) with assorted info for the first-time LUV flyer (again me). There’s lots of good tips here that I can add to my cheat-sheet. It’s helpful to be aware of all protocols before flying with them. By flying Southwest, I’m willing to relinquish an assigned seat (United) as long as I know how to get the best seat for me. Thanks!
How do you get on the A list or preferred list
A-list is for frequent flyers. You need to fly 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points in a calendar year.
I will be flying Southwest from Milwaukee to Los Angels – then American Airlines to Hawaii and return to CA. In your opinion, how important is the TSA pre-check program for this type of flight?
Hi Freeman, Sorry for the delay in responding. While it is always nice to have TSA Precheck its value depends on how often you fly. I would not sign up for it only to use it on one trip. How often do you think you will be flying in the next 5 years? Do you knave any children under 13?
Thanks for your reply. We have no children under 13 nor any under 30. And we are in the 75 to 80 plus range, so I don’t know how many more years we might be traveling our selves. So even though we might get caught in a long line this time, based on the dollars, it likely won’t pay off to have the TSA Pre-check?
Probably not worth it to pay for TSA Precheck if will only use it once or twice in 5 years. It is hard to predict the future but I would suggest that each person should divide the cost of TSA by your estimate of how many flights you think you will take in the next 5 years to see how much you would pay for each use.
If you have a credit card that gives you free TSA Precheck then you might as well sign up.
You might also get TSA Precheck randomly on your boarding pass. In the past, seniors were likely to get TSA Precheck without even signing up.
Even if you do not have TSA Precheck, the line might not necessarily be long-it depends on many factors including what time and day you are flying. I would recommend going to the airport early to be on the safe side. You would have to take off shoes, jackets and belts which some people find annoying.
Thanks for the information and your help.
Now I’m worried – I just purchased 8 tickets – for me and my husband and our 8 children. The youngest one is 10, and it would be HORRIBLE if she couldn’t sit with one of us! The others are older and would love not sit with us, but I’m worried about the 10 year old! Is it possible that she would get a boarding number not by mine????
If you are all on the same reservation I think you would get nearby boarding positions.
Even if your boarding groups were not next to each other you can still board together – but you would have to board with the family member that had the last boarding position. (For example, if two people were traveling together and one had A40 while the other had B12, they would both have to board at B12 to be able to walk on the plane together.)
The key to all sit together is to board early (A group or early B group). I would recommend setting an alarm and checking in exactly 24 hours before your flight’s departure time.
We just had this happen on a full flight to Florida. I explained that my 10 year old could not sit alone and the crew asked if anyone could make room. No one responded so crew upped their game and offered free movie or drinks if someone would move to allow 2 free seats. If this happens to anyone speak up. Crew will work with uou
That is great advice. The crew does not want young children sitting alone and will usually help you sit together.
will be traveling with granddaughter and lap baby will I be allowed to board with her during family boarding in order to help with baby? This will also be first time for granddaughter to fly.
I think you would be allowed to board during family boarding. According to southwest: “An adult traveling with a child six years old or younger may board during Family Boarding, which occurs after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group begins boarding.”
Traveing southeest airline with a 88 year old individual, that uses a non electric wheel chair and has difficulty walking. Will this person be given pre boardimg seat assignment,early boarding and/or any other preferential treatment. Thanks for your assistance.
My first time flying southwest:
I checked in exactly 24 hours before the flight. Got boarding pass b17
Second time completely forgot, and checked in about 3- 4hr before the flight. Got A17.
So, The “early you check in the better” theory is down the drain. What I did noticed was: My first B position I paid 64 bucks for that flight. My second A17 boarding position I paid over $100 for that flights. So I guess that’s what really matters. Not how early you checked in.
We have flown on many Southwest flights and do find that, in general, the earlier you check in the better boarding position you get. One factor that affects your position is how many other people are also checking in early for that flight. For example, I have noticed that on weekday flights, I have to check in right at 24 hours because most of the people on those flights are experienced business travelers that also check in at 24 hours. On the other hand, I have checked in later for Sunday morning flights and still got a good boarding position. I have noticed that most people on Sunday flights are traveling for leisure for the weekend, are less experienced and too busy on Saturday to check in at the 24 hour mark. I wonder if that was a factor on your flights?
People may have bought early bird with a reservation. And were automatically checked-in by SW, then less than 24 hours before (even up to 10 minutes before flight) the flight if they cancel their reservation – their ‘A’ boarding position gets put back into the system and whoever checks in next gets that boarding position.
Here is a step by step guide I put together to setup automatic check-in on your own computer at the 24 hr mark – http://www.theartoftravelhacking.com/automatic-check-southwest-flights/
If you sign up for early bird check in, do you still need to check in as well to make sure you have a good boarding position? Or will it automatically show you when you log in what your boarding position is?
early bird checks you in automatically to get a good boarding position – but you will still have to print a boarding pass, get one at the airport kiosk, or pull it up on your phone before you head through security.
We signed up for the Early Bird check in. Does anybody know when I will be able to see what boarding position we received? If I log in 24 hours before the flight to check, will it be there already? Thank you for all of the other great information in this post and in the comments!
I see it when I log in 24 hours before my flight to print my boarding pass.
You’ll be able to see your boarding position right away at the 24 hour mark before you depart. Get the southwest App and they’ll send ya a push alert of your boarding position with early bird.
If you have a connecting flight, and have paid for early bird seating on the first flight, does it also apply to the second flight? We will have to change planes too!
This is one of these rules that often can vary. It should check you in but I’ve had times when I’ve had early bird that it checks in a B assignment.
This might already be mentioned by exit rows also have language, age and mobility requirements. Plus if your on a B737-700 series the window exit seat is removed on some of the aircraft. When in doubt check seat guru!
My husband and I are traveling with 5 children, the youngest being 5 years old. Does that mean that we can all board during family boarding?
In my experience, you will probably be fine. The issue Southwest tries to eliminate in Family Boarding is the opposite…4 adults trying to board with one child/toddler. Just check with the gate agent and be friendly.
Are seniors (85 years old) permitted to board a flight early, and if so, are there certain restrictions as to where they sit?
Recent experience would indicate that most people are paying for the early check in and/or that there are many A+ travelers that automatically get higher boarding numbers. Bottom line if you are an occasional SW flyer be prepared to be at the back of the bus. Checking in early will do you little good. I just checked in and got B51. Started hitting the check in button 2 minutes before my phone showed the exact 24 hour before wheels up time.
I fly SWA exclusively and am A+Preferred meaning I usually board from A16-A21. Not sure I’d pay extra to board A1-A15 as sometimes the flight is a non-originating flight and still contains many passengers flying to the next destination so you don’t get the seat you really want, hence you may have wasted your money unless the goal is to just be able to get an aisle seat or room for your bag. If I don’t get the emergency aisle I’ll sit in row 9 or multiples of 9 as they receive drinks first. I’ve only had a couple bad experiences with miserable flight crews but the exceptional experiences far outweigh those. Great airline and once you learn the boarding process and use the aforementioned tips you’ll never want to fly other airlines. Did I mention free drinks for A+ and above and the Companion Pass Program?
I will protest to the flight attendant when an early boarder puts his personal items in the seat next to him and claims he is saving a seat. I have talked to the airline and this is against their policy. I feel someone doing this is more rude then my complaint!
Travel often with Southwest, and I get really steamed when I see” wheelchair’ passengers get to board early, but on the other end of the flight,often see these same passengers sprinting around the baggage carousels lugging big suitcases.
Southwest needs a better system to identify truly deserving pre-boarders who abuse the system and laugh at the rest of us.
Perhaps its time to require medical certificates signed by doctors?
The second paragraph heading, “The key to getting a good seat…,” made me ask myself, “what’s a good seat?” I appreciate that you addressed that later in the article. As with you, I do prefer an aisle seat if just for the sake of the feeling of extra room on one side of me (briefly tucking in when the service carts come thru), though if I intend to nap on a longer flight I prefer having a window to lean up against, which is also good when a very broad passenger takes the center seat. Despite where you pick to sit, a good seat is ultimately one with overhead storage! I know overhead bin space isn’t earmarked per seat, but there is a common sense factor that makes it somewhat of an unspoken guideline. I despise when a person puts their stuff in the first open bin spot then goes to the back of the plane. The later groups board and someone filling a hole near the front of the plane has no overhead storage and has to make their way to the back to find room in a bin, then make their way back to their seat. If that isn’t bad enough, now they have to get their stuff from the back when the plane deboards, all on the account of a jerk that puts their stuff in a bin space that would typically be for a passenger in that row, rather than putting in close to the seat they chose.
Seat savers are simply violating my right to sit in a seat I’ve paid for. After a trip to Aruba last year we will never, not for all the tea on China ever, fly SWA again. Paid for business Select, arrived very early (this scenario played out identically both inbound and out) and wat in rows 7 and 13 respectively. Outbout a group of 5 children preboarded with 1 adult, each kid took a middle seat and held the entire row for others in their group in later boarding groups. FA’s were useless. Disinterested and unresponsive. I am 6’1”+, 275 and thought that paying for BS (appreciate) seats we’d have options. The seat saving kid brigade took the bulkheads and wing exit rows…how can a child hold a wing exit seat? Bonus, one of the FA’s I had asked to assist us took the opportunity to be discourteous and unprofessional the entire AUA-ISP with stop in MCO trip. Written complaints (email) followed the flights with zero SWA response. I opened 2 Chase Visa cards and purchased BS to maximize points, now I’ve got 150,000 points I will not use. Oh, almost neglected to include that through the credit card spend bonuses I had achieved my Companion Pass. SWA did not honor it for the AUA trip…! Paid full fare for both wife and I, still have a never used Companion Pass. Yikes, SWA will never see another thin dime of my hard earned dollars.
I am concerned after reading everyone’s comments. I am traveling from New York to California with my elderly mom who will be using airport wheelchair assistance to/from the gate, but she cannot sit alone and must be with me as she is non-verbal due to aphasia from a stroke and needs assistance in other areas. It’s also hard for her to get up and down. I was hoping to get the bulkhead seat with her. I’m also nervous because we have a connecting flight changing planes and we need to disembark quickly, which is going to be very difficult. What are your recommendations. She’s already stressed and I feel terrible for her.
I have come to the conclusion that Southwest is the least predictable airline there is both from comments and from my own miserable experience with them. If you haven’t already traveled, can you get a refund on your tickets and book with another less “cattle car” airline? That bulkhead seat is highly coveted by a lot of people for a lot of reasons – claustrophobia, long legs, etc. and usually goes with the first person on the plane. A communication problem will not get you the bulkhead seat. Another airline may cost more but it might be worth it not to have the worries ruin your trip. Southwest may be cheap but there is an old saying: You get what you pay for. Best wishes on your trip.
Hi….I have flown many times with Southwest. People in wheelchairs and whoever is flying with them generally get on the plane first and have the bulkhead seats. The only advantage to flying with them is free baggage. Their tickets are not all that cheap anymore. It takes forever to get a free ticket and there are so many blackout dates. I would fly with them for airport convenience, however, I started to hate when a trip that takes 2-3 hours becomes an all day deal because they stop in Baltimore. I always hated the seating issue and having to stop what you are doing to get your boarding pass online and try to not end up being in C group. Good luck when flying with them.
Blackout dates? Are you kidding me? No such thing!
This policy sucks. Southwest is the walmart of airlines. They heard people in and let them fight for seats that don’t suck. You will not sit with friends/family most of the time. They provide no seating service, letting people fight over seats. If you like being treated like you’re in a third world country, fly Southwest! Dreadful policy.
Print this out and save it. It is from Southwest website. No one can really save a seat.
Pick a seat, any seat At Southwest®, we let you sit where you like. We don’t assign seats on our flights, so feel free to sit in any available seat once you board the plane.
i pretend to be sick and start coughing. unless the flight is completely full, nobody wants to sit next to the guy that might be sick/ill.
may be deranged but it works!
Just completed a roundtrip from L.A. to Newark on Southwest with layovers in Denver and Chicago. Out of the three seating groups I know of (A, B & C), the best we managed for early check- in was B. There was always an offer for A group boarding at the gate for an additional $15-$16 when available. Boarding before the next group also makes overhead storage space easier to find. Southwest ends flights to Newark in November(?) 2019.
Postscript – I forgot to mention my shock when a guy with a full-size guitar case was allowed to take it aboard. There went two overhead storage spaces for the price of one…
Twice, or a flight from Phoenix to Baltimore and back in June I picked the middle seat in the front of the plane with more legroom because I had a small dog and was told it was occupied. I told him I didn’t Believe him ..call him an A hole and told him that If he wanted to mess with me for the rest of the flight which was five hours long. Go ahead. Never heard another word out of him for the rest of the flight. You don’t have these problems on other airlines because you get to pick your seat before your flight. Ruined my flight.
Active duty military board right after “A” (pretty much ~usually have to ~ have to have your CAC card or orders printed…). If you have uniform (which military kind of discourages unless returning from deployment) SW will also cut slack for slightly heavier bag (uniforms + boots etc…) military travel usually has deals with other carriers so frequently does seem to book with SW for some reason. TSA also seem to be nice to me when I use CAC for ID purposes in line. Only had to fly home from deployment once in uniform but number of people and other military people from almost every service were super nice (especially older heroes from ww2 etc…) military generally strongly strongly strongly discourages any alcohol drinks while in uniform so always best to decline drinks except pop or coffee. Families of other service members usually super nice too.
Mil travel *DOESNT* seem to like to use SW for some reason…
If I have 2 southwest planes within 2 hours of each other on one reservation to complete my trip, how many calls are necessary to get my boarding area for entry for both planes.
- Adventures in flying and personal space (or: The dude in the middle seat put his face in my lap) - […] pictured above drifted off to sleep. He was in the middle seat of our row; I took the window seat because…
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My Secrets to Getting the Best Seats on Southwest
Some travelers won’t even fly Southwest due to their quirky open seating boarding process It can be stressful and often means you have to summon up your best hustle energy to get a good seat on Southwest. And of course, a good seat means different things to different people.
It’s best to board with a plan! Here are some tricks, tips and strategies so that the dreaded middle seat goes to someone other than you!
How Southwest Airlines Open Seating Policy Works
If you’re new to Southwest and can’t figure out how to pick your seats, don’t worry, neither can anyone else.
Southwest Airlines has an open seating policy. Seats are not assigned ahead of time, rather passengers are assigned a boarding group, A, B, or C, and a boarding position, 1-60.
The boarding group and position determine when you board the plane, and thus how many seats you will be able to choose from.
The whole thing used to be a true free for all. The airline handed out placards with one of the three letters. People would line up under a letter, camping out on the ground for literally hours before a flight departed, in hope of improving their real estate situation onboard the flight.
Southwest decided this wasn’t a good look, and back in the mid-2000s added boarding positions. Now, the lines have numbers and everyone is expected to sort themselves out based on their exact position in line.
Unless you really are dead set on sitting at the bulkhead or you really want an exit row aisle or window, the key to finding a decent seat on a full flight is to secure a boarding position in roughly the first half of passengers to board.
- If you’re not using these tips, tricks, and strategies, you’re spending too much on your travels!
What Makes For a “Good” Southwest Seat?
All of this talk about seating begs the question, which seats qualify as good ones? The seats on the plane are more or less all identical. Except for exit rows, there’s no extra legroom seating, and there’s not really any perk to one seat over the other, besides location.
Southwest Airlines cabins are delightfully uniform. Seats are spaced evenly apart, and they all have full tray tables, armrests and luxe amenities like lights and air.
The best seat on Southwest depends on personal needs. Travelers with connecting flights might want to sit in the front in order to make a quick exit, but then there are those who head straight for the back perhaps because they are a family looking for seats together. Some folks head to the back hoping the flight won’t be full and they’ll have a row with an empty middle seat.
One piece of information I like to have before I sit down is how full my flight is. I’ve seen Southwest gate agents make announcements as to whether a flight is full, but they often make this up just to get everyone on the plane quicker. One inexact way to judge is to see how many people remain in the gate area after the A Group is called. If about half the gate area lines up for A boarding, it’s a safe bet there will be plenty of empty seats.
The Complete Guide to Southwest Airlines’ Quirky Perks and Hacks
During full-ish flights, choosing seats in the front-center section increases your chance of securing an empty middle seat between you and a neighbor. When there are plenty of empty seats, though, the rear of the aircraft can be downright spacious.
Want the discounts, welcome gifts, room upgrades, and hotel credits a travel agent can get you? I sure do. Here’s the travel advisor I use to get the best deals, lowest prices, and personalized service.
Rule Number One: Check-In ASAP
If there’s one rule Southwest regulars follow religiously, it’s this: check-in exactly 24 hours before the flight. I sometimes even set an alarm for the exact minute!
Use this page. Use it early.
Get on your laptop, open the Southwest website on a smartphone or download the Southwest app. Within a few minutes of opening, many of the coveted top boarding positions will be gone, so it’s crucial to click that Check In button as early as possible.
I know some Southwest frequent flyers who set an alarm five minutes before check-in opens. They’ll enter all the necessary information on the website to check in and then as soon as the clock ticks 24 hours, they’ll click the button.
Pro tip: Keep your personal information private! Here’s the easiest way to stay protected.
EarlyBird Check-In Option
Not sure if you’ll be able to check-in 24 hours prior to your flight? Consider purchasing Southwest EarlyBird Check-In. EarlyBird Check-In costs $15.00 one-way, per person. When you purchase EarlyBird Check-In, Southwest automatically checks you in and assigns your boarding position within 36 hours of your flight’s departure. Southwest EarlyBird Check-In doesn’t guarantee an A boarding position, but it stands to reason you would be in the A or early B group.
Does Southwest Airlines Have a Family Boarding Policy?
Have a family? You’re in luck. An adult traveling with a child six or younger may board during Family Boarding, after the “A” group has boarded and before the “B” group begins boarding. If the child and the adult are both holding an “A” boarding pass, they should board in their assigned boarding position, but if either is B1 or later, this shortcut helps families sit together.
Southwest Boarding Groups Move Quickly — If You’re Late, Walk-Up Front
Once Southwest starts boarding, things happen quickly. If you are running late and have an earlier boarding position, just walk to the front of the line to board. Don’t worry, cutting isn’t rude in this circumstance.
I’ve seen this happen many times, especially with travelers from connecting flights.
Pay Extra or Fly More
Southwest offers a fare that guarantees an A1-A15 boarding position: Business Select. These fares are pricy — more than a fully refundable ticket — but they include FlyBy Priority Security lane access and come with free cocktail coupons.
What Exactly Is a ‘Wanna Get Away’ Fare?
If you don’t want to purchase a Business Select fare, Upgraded Boarding is an alternative. Upgraded Boarding is not always available, but can be worth trying.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
The new Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card actually includes Upgraded Boarding on four flights per year. It also comes with a heap of intro bonus points, if you spend enough.
- Click here to access this card and others like it and decide which SWA card is best for you!
On the day of travel, go to a Kiosk at the airport and Check-In again. It’s also possible to ask about Upgraded Boarding at the baggage counter. You can also ask at the gate before the start of the boarding process.
If Upgraded Boarding is available, depending on your itinerary, you’ll be given a boarding position in the A1-A15 group. The cost is $30 or $40 per flight depending on your itinerary.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards members with A-List and A-List Preferred status. These members are automatically assigned boarding positions ahead of general boarding. They even board ahead of EarlyBird flyers.
Want to be unpopular? Try Saving Seats
Save a seat and someone’s likely to give you this look.
Some travelers will attempt to save seats for people boarding after them. Many frequent flyers will complain because Southwest doesn’t seem to have an official policy on this practice. Even if they do, crews don’t consistently do anything about it.
I’ve observed that most people don’t care if someone is saving a middle seat next to them when their traveling companion is boarding soon. But beware! Some passengers take saving seats to the max. You may need to speak up or ask a crew member for help.
How do I select a seat on Southwest Airlines can be a confusing question to answer. These tips and suggestions can help you navigate Southwest’s open seating policy with the least amount of stress, a good dose of humor about how it all somehow works, and the best chance of getting the best seat possible!
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Shelli Stein is a health and fitness entrepreneur who travels the world in search of culture, food, and fun! Besides contributing to PointMeToThePlane , you can find her at Joy in Movement.
The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
Shelli Stein is a travel writer, health educator , and story teller. She has come to realize writing as a way of sharing travel experiences brings her a lot of pleasure! Her areas of expertise are: all things Southwest Airlines , hotel reviews , and what to do, see, and eat in destinations around the world. She sees travel as an adventure, trying to somehow get inside and experience a different way of life, a different cultural heritage. Maybe she can show you something you’ve never seen. Inspire you with new ideas for your next vacation. Attempt to put a smile on your face . Help you learn from her mistakes . Or challenge your assumptions about the world . She lives life with humor, gratitude, and humility and always sees the coffee cup as half full!
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If you check in C group, check your carry on. It saves everyone time! Departure is earlier and the time wasted could be used drinking a beer or walking to baggage claim. Oh, you don’t want to wait? It takes 5 -10 minutes at baggage claim compared to 30 mins waiting for SW to check your Carey on because there was no room in the overhead bins.
Early bird fees are sometimes more than $15, depending on the length of the trip, but still can be worth it.
Good point, Stan. Thanks for reading and adding to the conversation!
Early birds are no longer $15. They’ve gone up to $25 per person each way.
Hi Mike, According to Southwest, EarlyBird check-in can be purchased at prices ranging from $15-25 one-way per passenger.
We just booked southwest from Milwaukee to Vegas and the early bird checkin wwas$50
Sorry bout that,it was $25 apiece
No worries, William. It’s confusing, for sure. Glad the math worked out as it should have. Thanks for reading!
I have a connecting flight and paid for early check in. Does that roll over to my connecting flight?
Hi Karen, I’m not exactly clear on what you mean by connecting flight. First I’m assuming your connecting flight is also on Southwest. Did you buy the connecting flight separately or by connecting flight did you mean a stop and then a change of planes?
I think Karen means, I.e. one reservation from east to west coast, with a Dallas layover and continue on a different aircraft, that would be two segments, right? Does the purchased early bird cover both boardings or need to buy two?
Hi Jame, Thanks for reading and for your follow-up question. I still need more information from Karen, though, to properly answer. Here is a post on Early Bird that might help clear up any confusion. https://pointmetotheplane.boardingarea.com/southwest-early-bird-check-in/
I purchased the early bird check in so what do I do once I get to the airport. Do I still need to get online at 24 hours prior to departure to reserve a boarding pass ? And what do I do once I get to the gate ?
Hi Donna, Thanks for reading. Hope this helps answer your questions: https://pointmetotheplane.boardingarea.com/southwest-early-bird-check-in/
I need to fly to Florida nonstop with my wife who is disabled, how do I board with a wheelchair? I also need to make sure we make the flight and not be put on standby. Any tips for me? I haven’t flown in 40 yrs.
Hi Steve, I suggest you call Southwest Airlines directly and talk with them about your needs. I’m quite certain they will be able to assist you. Safe travels and thanks so much for reading and taking the time to ask your questions. Hope my suggestion to reach out to SWA helps!
Our trip to Florida went perfect. SW airlines was great and we got first boarding and everyone was friendly and helpful. We had a great trip. Flights were half full,and middle seats left open.
Thanks so much for the data points Steve. Glad you had such a great experience. Generally speaking, SWA does not disappoint!
Since Southwest does not have assigned seats this is my question, My family of 6 is flying, I hate to fly so I always want an aisle seat, others are ok with whatever, but I want us all close by each other. I plan to check in early but do you have any other suggestions?
Good question, Therese. Given you’re a family of 6, I’m thinking at least one of the family members will be able to grab an aisle seat. If not, maybe someone outside your family will switch with you. Early bird check-in is the way to go because it puts you in a favorable boarding group. Good luck, and thanks much for reading!
Does a Wanna Get Away ticket mean the last to board?
Good question, Claudia. Southwest assigns boarding groups based on a few factors. This fare type does not mean last to board. To understand more about the Wanna Get Away fare, I suggest taking a look at this post, https://pointmetotheplane.boardingarea.com/wanna-get-away-fares/ . Hope this helps.
I fly Southwest all the time but I have a trip coming up in July where my family is traveling from Oakland to Cincinnati on 3 different confirmation numbers and would like to seat near each other. My granddaughter has her own confirmation number but we cannot qualify for family boarding because she is 7 years old. We all don’t want to buy an Early Bird check-in but the flights are full so how can we ensure that at least she is seated with one of us and we are not all in middle seats.
Hi Beth, Try reaching out to SWA with your concerns and see what they suggest. Also, I imagine there will be people on your flight who would swap seats with you so your granddaughter can sit with family. Safe travels!
[…] all on the same page before I start this rant, I need to make sure you’re all in the know about how Southwest Airlines assigns seats. They don’t assign seats at all! It’s an open seating policy. First come, first […]
[…] incidental credit option. This can be useful on Southwest Airlines because priority boarding often gets you the best seats. Always remember that the incidental fees will only cover priority boarding fees on your designated […]
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[…] Learn more: Secrets to Getting the Best Seats on Southwest Airlines […]
Do they allow handicap to board first? Is it possible to get seats if unable to walk the aisle?
Hi Kathleen, I believe that Southwest does make a boarding call for anyone needing extra time to board. I’m not sure about the answer to your second question though. You might want to reach out to Southwest and ask them directly.
[…] Source: https://pointmetotheplane.boardingarea.com/best-seat-on-southwest-airlines/ […]
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Southwest Airlines Boarding Process & Groups – Everything You Need To Know
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Southwest Airlines has gained a lot of popularity over the years in part because they do things a little differently. They don’t charge change fees, they don’t charge for checked baggage , and they don’t assign seats.
If you have never flown Southwest before, this last one can throw you for a loop! But have no fear — Upgraded Points has got you covered!
In this post, we’ll detail what makes the Southwest boarding process different and what you need to know to navigate it like a pro. We’ll also show you some ways to help boost your chances of getting the seat you want plus answer some common FAQs.
Table of contents
What Makes the Southwest Boarding Process Different?
Why checking in for your flight is so important, at the gate, tips for finding an open seat, family boarding, boarding for passengers with disabilities, earn southwest elite status, earlybird check-in, purchase upgraded boarding at the gate, the best credit cards for upgraded boarding, final thoughts.
Table of Contents
The Southwest Airlines boarding process is different because they don’t assign seats. However, it’s not a free for all — there is a specific system that you’ll need to follow to board the plane. Then once you are on board, you can choose any available seat that you want.
The Southwest Airlines Boarding Process [Detailed]
When you check in for your Southwest Airlines flight, you’ll receive a boarding position. This boarding position will consist of a letter (A, B, or C) and a number (1-60).
The number you’re assigned is based (mostly) on when you check in for your flight — the earlier you check in, the better your boarding position will be.
Southwest opens check-in 24 hours before your plane departs, so you’ll want to check in as soon as it opens. Seasoned Southwest passengers will set an alarm to remind themselves to check in exactly 24 hours ahead of time.
Checking in 24 hours before your flight will usually land you somewhere in the B boarding group — which is generally adequate to find either a window or aisle seat or 2 seats together if you are flying with a companion.
When it’s time to board the plane, the gate agent will first call the A group to get in position. You’ll notice 2 lines of people lining up in rows that are labeled A 1-30 and A 31-60 (note the photo below is showing C 1-30 and C 31+). In each row, there will be a marker for every 5 numbers showing exactly where you should be standing in line.
Once boarding begins, the gate agent will start with pre-board passengers and those with boarding positions A 1-15 (usually reserved for Business Select passengers). Then they will continue with A 15-30 then A 31-60. Once A 1-30 have boarded the plane, the monitor at the front of the line will change to B 1-30. Then the B group can start lining up while the rest of the A group finishes getting on the plane.
When your number is called, you’ll walk in line to the gate agent to scan your boarding pass and proceed on to the plane. Once you are on the plane, you can choose any open seat.
Hot Tip: If you’re flying on Southwest Airlines, be sure to familiarize yourself with the Rapid Rewards program. This frequent flyer program includes lots of ways to earn points (even without flying ) and offers easy points redemptions with no blackout dates. Southwest flies to lots of international destinations plus Hawaii (finally), so their Rapid Rewards program is one you won’t want to miss.
Southwest Boarding Positions
If you aren’t familiar with Southwest’s boarding positions, they may be a little confusing. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect.
Pre-Board: Pre-boarding is reserved for those passengers with situations that require them to have a specific seat on the plane due to a disability or those who need assistance in boarding or stowing an assistive device. A pre-boarding designation needs to be arranged prior to boarding.
A1-15: These positions are usually reserved for Business Select passengers (the most expensive type of ticket you can purchase on Southwest). If not all of the Business Select tickets were sold, other passengers can upgrade their position to the A1-A15 section for $30-$50 (the upgraded boarding applies to just that flight, not your whole itinerary). To upgrade your boarding position, you’ll need to see the gate attendant before the boarding process begins.
A16-30: This group is usually assigned to A-List Preferred or A-List members and anyone who purchased EarlyBird Check-In . However, an A boarding position is not guaranteed even if you have A-List, A-List Preferred, or EarlyBird Check-In.
Family Boarding/Active Duty Military/Passengers Needing Extra Time: Families traveling with a child who is 6 years old or younger can board after the A group regardless of their assigned boarding position. This does not need to be arranged ahead of time. You’ll just line up to the side and board when they call for families with young children.
Any active-duty military passengers are allowed to board at this time as well.
Any customers with a disability who just need a little extra time to board can go in this group. This needs to be pre-arranged by speaking to a ticket counter agent or a gate agent prior to boarding.
B 1-60: This middle of the road group can vary depending on how full the plane is and how many people purchased EarlyBird Check-In. You can still end up in the B group when you purchase EarlyBird Check-In, however, you’ll probably be at the front of the pack if you do.
If you check in exactly 24 hours ahead of time, you’ll usually end up somewhere in the B group. If you have a B group boarding position, the chances are good that you’ll still be able to get a window or aisle seat or find 2 seats together if you’re traveling with a companion.
Hot Tip: If you are in the B group (or even one of the first numbers in the C group), head to the back of the plane. People tend to fill in the front of the plane first leaving open seating in the back. While this doesn’t always work, you’ll have better chances of avoiding a middle seat if you head to the rear of the aircraft.
C 1-60: This is the group you will most likely get if you don’t check in right on time. While the C group isn’t a guaranteed middle seat, the chances are pretty high you won’t be sitting in the ideal spot.
If you’re traveling alone, it’s worth it to go to the back of the plane in search of a window or aisle seat. If there are only middle seats left, the flight attendants will announce it so you’ll know when to give up and take the first seat you see.
- The flight attendants will usually be standing in a row of seats near the middle of the plane (often in the exit row) during boarding. They are usually more than happy to move if you’d like to sit where they are standing.
- You’ll see people with their bags on the seat in an effort to save them for traveling companions with a later boarding number. While you are technically allowed to ask them to move their items so you can sit there, you’ll have a grumpy seatmate for the whole trip. It’s probably best to move on.
- Often you’ll see 2 people in a row who are traveling together but sitting in the window and aisle, leaving the middle seat empty. If you ask to sit there, more often than not one of them will move over, giving you a window or an aisle seat.
- Don’t pass up a prime empty seat in the front of the plane. I see this all the time! You’ll often see a decent empty seat in the front of the plane that people are passing up. Unlike other airlines, these are not reserved for anyone, so feel free to take a great seat in the front if it’s available (I’ve used this trick to score a second-row aisle seat with overhead bin space even though I had a C boarding position!).
Flying on Southwest with young children is one instance when bringing the kids makes your trip easier! That’s because parents traveling with a child that’s 6 years old or younger get to board after the A group regardless of what boarding position is listed on your boarding pass.
That means you don’t have to worry about checking in exactly 24 hours ahead of time — which is a luxury when flying on Southwest.
Boarding right after the A group also guarantees you’ll be able to find a group of seats together, which is essential when traveling with little ones.
Family boarding is limited to 2 parents only and their children as long as one is 6 years old or younger. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or anyone else traveling with you will still need to board in their assigned position.
If you are traveling with a child and you both have A boarding positions, you’re more than welcome to go ahead and board with the A group — you don’t have to wait for family boarding.
Bottom Line: If you’re traveling with a child who is 6 years old or younger, you’ll be able to board during family boarding. This takes place between the A and B groups which will ensure you can find seats together. This courtesy only extends to children and 2 parents — any other traveling companions will still need to board based on their boarding position.
Customers with disabilities that require pre-boarding due to a specific seating need or those who need assistance with a medical device need to speak to a ticket agent or gate agent before boarding begins. If the passenger qualifies, a new boarding pass with a pre-boarding designation will be issued. Anyone who pre-boards may not sit in an exit row.
If a customer with a disability just needs a little extra time, they will be permitted to board before family boarding between the A and B groups.
This courtesy extends to 1 travel companion as well — any additional family or friends will need to board with their assigned groups.
How to Get a Better Boarding Position
If you want a great boarding position, but don’t want to worry about checking in at the right time (or paying for a Business Select fare), there are other options to help you secure a coveted higher boarding position.
- Earn Southwest elite status
- Purchase EarlyBird Check-In
- Purchase an upgraded boarding position at the gate (subject to availability).
- Get a credit card that comes with upgraded boarding passes or a travel credit to cover the fees.
You can earn elite status on Southwest Airlines through the number of one-way flights you take or through the number of elite qualifying points you earn in 1 calendar year. Southwest also allows other passengers on the same reservation as the elite member to board at the same time as the elite member.
Southwest also will occasionally run promotions to help you fast track your status, or you can try a status match .
Hot Tip: While having a Southwest Companion Pass is a fantastic perk, it does not make you eligible for any type of priority boarding.
Adding EarlyBird Check-In to your reservation will automatically check you in up to 36 hours ahead of your flight, giving you a higher boarding position. However, it doesn’t guarantee an A group position. You could still get a B boarding position even if you pay for EarlyBird Check-In.
You can add EarlyBird Check-In when you purchase your ticket, or you can add it to an existing flight. It costs between $15-$25 one-way per person.
If there are open boarding positions available in the A1-A15 group, you’ll be able to pay to upgrade to one of these positions at the gate.
The cost is $30-$50 per person per flight segment (it doesn’t cover your whole itinerary). Upgraded boarding can be purchased at the gate before boarding begins by speaking to a gate agent.
Bottom Line: Your best bets to get a higher boarding position without having to earn elite status are EarlyBird Check-In and upgraded boarding at the gate. However, both options will cost you. EarlyBird Check-In costs $15-$25 one-way per person and doesn’t guarantee you’ll get an A boarding number. Upgraded boarding at the gate is subject to availability and costs $30-$50 per flight per person, but it gets you an A1-15 boarding position.
Of course, perks like upgraded boarding or EarlyBird Check-In are even better when you don’t have to pay for them. The good news is that some credit cards will cover these costs for you.
Southwest Credit Cards:
An A1-15 boarding position sounds great, but paying up to $50 per person isn’t great. Thankfully, there are credit cards that can help you cover this cost.
The following Southwest credit cards each come with 4 upgraded boarding passes per year:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Other Credit Cards:
Some credit cards offer credits for travel purchases. You can use these credits to upgrade your boarding position or to purchase EarlyBird Check-In on Southwest Airlines.
The airline fee credit on these American Express cards will only be reimbursed if the charge comes from your selected airline (so be sure to choose Southwest!). These credits don’t apply to airfare, so if you want to use your credit for EarlyBird Check-In, be sure to purchase it separately from your flight.
Amex credit cards that offer airline fee reimbursements include:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express : $200 airline fee credit
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express : $200 airline fee credit
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card : $250 airline fee credit
Chase and Citi also offer cards that come with a generous travel reimbursement. Using the travel credits on these cards is easier than those on Amex cards. You don’t have to designate a specific airline or worry about making sure you pay for EarlyBird Check-In separate from your flight.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Citi Prestige® Card
Southwest is an airline that does things a little differently. This includes their boarding process — because they don’t assign seats! While the idea of not having an assigned seat can be a little confusing at first, once you get the hang of it, it’s easy peasy.
We hope this guide gives you the confidence to board your next Southwest flight like a pro!
Frequently asked questions
Is southwest earlybird check-in worth it.
Whether or not Southwest EarlyBird Check-In is worth it is a personal decision. If having a middle seat will absolutely ruin your trip, it might be a good idea. It can also be a good idea on longer flights where you’ll be more comfortable in a window or aisle seat.
If you’re on a short flight or you’re pretty confident that you can remember to check in exactly 24 hours before your departure, you’ll probably be fine without EarlyBird Check-In.
Does Southwest board military first?
Southwest gives special consideration to active duty military personnel. Any active-duty military passenger will be able to board after the A group regardless of their assigned boarding position.
Can I upgrade my boarding position on Southwest?
Yes, if you would like to upgrade your boarding position you can speak to the gate agent before boarding begins. If there are any A1-15 positions available you’ll be able to upgrade for $30-$50 per person.
Do Southwest A-List customers automatically get checked in?
Yes, if you’re an A-List or A-List Preferred member, Southwest will automatically check you in 36 hours prior to your departure.
How does EarlyBird Check-In work on Southwest Airlines?
When you purchase Southwest EarlyBird Check-In you’ll automatically get checked in for your flight 36 hours before departure (that’s 12 hours ahead of general check-in). It ensures you’ll have a decent boarding position, but it does not guarantee an A boarding position.
What if I have a different boarding position than my traveling companion?
If you have a different boarding position than your traveling companion you’re able to board together if you go by the person with the lowest position. For example, if you are assigned boarding position A48 and your companion is assigned B31 you may both board at B31, but not at A48.
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Nice post. Southwest can be fairly confusing for first-time flyers. This will definitely help those people.
According to two places on your website, active duty military are given seating preference of between A and B groups. This morning I was traveling on military orders and was denied this slot for boarding because I was not in uniform. We are instructed not to travel in uniform unless absolutely necessary for the mission because wearing the uniform in places like the airport because it makes us a target. Please consider revising your policy (the attendant at Little Rock Airport said a memo recently came out to enforce the uniform requirement). Or just update your website and do not have the attendants make the announcement for military to board prior to turning us away. The attendant was very friendly and was just doing her job, but it seems something needs to change or be clarified. This was flight 6322 from Little Rock to Dallas at 1200. Thank you for taking this into consideration, it’s a little embarrassing being turned away.
I’m sorry you were turned away. According to Southwest their policy is to let “active duty, uniformed members of the U.S. armed forces to board between the “A” and “B” boarding groups.” As a frequent Southwest flyer, I can say that most times, the gate attendant calls for just “active duty military”, so I can understand how frustrated you might be that the “uniformed” part of the policy isn’t clear or consistently enforced. I would suggest contacting Southwest directly to express your concern.
So wearing a uniform can make you a target however you want to board when they announce “Military” over the P.A.? Try boarding with the civilians and that will make you less of a target. And yes, I am a veteran.
He didn’t make the rules…he’s just following them. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to take advantage of the benefits offered by the airlines.
Wearing a uniform from the time of entering the airport until boarding the plane makes an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces a lot more conspicuous and exposed for a lot longer than just boarding when “Military” is announced. Just sayin’. And no, I am not a veteran.
There is no consistency among which Southwest terminals permit non-uniformed active duty to board between zones A and B. This morning I was permitted to board in Dallas and then not permitted to after my layover in Phoenix. This is the first time I have not been permitted to board early after being allowed to numerous other times. Further, as previously stated, traveling in uniform is a security risk and is discouraged. Southwest’s stance on this is very confusing.
I would like to know if a Covid19 test is required if you have both shots.
Where will you be flying?
Has anyone else noticed that pre-boarding has gotten crazy out of control? My wife and I have flown quite a few times this year and we routinely see 15-20 people board before A1. Most are not in wheel chairs and few show externally a need for additional help. That’s not say that they’re not out there and we just can’t see their need. It does seem like it’s being taken advantage of, especially when you see those same people who pre-boarded walk off the plane without assistance.
I stopped flying southwest (my husband and I) for that same reason. I wrote to Southwest in regards to this same issue. They told me that is their policy and research shows that people love it! Well, I don’t. I do not nor do my family give them business. People are taking advantage of the system and in this day in age, no one has the Strength to call them out and use proper protocol. So I pay more, fly American, and CHOOSE my seat. Call and complain, not that they will listen.
I once saw this guy in a wheelchair boarding, and after the flight, away from the gate, he started walking and pushing the wheelchair instead.
As a person who looks personally fine but has a heart that works at less than 48 percent, I don’t agree with this. I cannot walk long distances through the terminal. Do I have to look disabled before I can use a wheelchair? It is also important to mention that my disability was caused because of two consecutive tours in Afghanistan. It is so amazing in today’s society people have to look disabled to be considered disabled. When we don’t want to stereotype. I am more frustrated when a family of six will follow the individual with the wheelchair down the jetway. Please remember that disabilities do not have signs or a look.
The inconsistency with the military boarding with Southwest is annoying. Last time I boarded early not in uniform with no problem, and this flight they denied me to board after the A group saying I had to be in uniform. I know it’s not a huge deal, but if they could pick a stance on military boarding it would save the embarrassment of trying to board early and being denied.
Actually Southwest DOESNT ALLOW military to board. You have to be uniformed which is against most military travel policies.
I think it would be idiotic for SW to change the “in uniform” requirement. The time it takes to check each ID doesn’t make sense. Rather than complaining to SW, complain to the government travel department to let you travel in uniform. It only makes sense.
It’s about honoring our military. As the gentleman said above most are encouraged not to wear their uniforms, even when they are on a mission. A visible uniform doesn’t change their status. Good grief give them a few extra minutes to board! Especially when they have laid their lives down for our freedom! SMH
Is my early boarding status applied to my subsequent flights at layovers?
If you purchased it during booking then it should be applied to each flight.
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Southwest Seat Selection: Choose(Pick) Seats in Advance
Southwest seat selection policy: how to reserve seat in advance.
If you are new to Southwest airlines and confused about seat selection there then there is nothing to worry about. Read further and you will get to know more about seat policy in Southwest airlines.
What is the Southwest Seat Selection Policy?
- Southwest has a unique open seat policy that means seats are not assigned ahead of time instead of the passenger are assigned according to boarding group A, B or C as well as boarding position 1-60.
- Note that the Boarding group and the position will determine when you will board the plane and from how many sets you can choose from
- Previously the whole thing was applicable and truly free for all. Now the airline has handed out a placard with one of the three letters, in that case, people will line up under the letter, camping out an hour before the flight has to depart, in a way to improve the real state the situation on the flight.
- Southwest assumed this was not a good idea, and back in the mid-2000s added boarding positions. Now, the lines have numbers and passengers are expected to look themselves out based on their accurate position in line.
- Until passengers really are dead set on sitting at the bulkhead or want to have an exit row aisle or window, the key to finding a decent Southwest seat assignment on a full flight is to have a boarding position in nearly the first half of the travelers to board.
How much does it cost to select a seat on Southwest Airlines?
The price for the seat is around $30 or $40 per flight that depends on the itinerary. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards members with A-List are desired status. These members are usually automatically given boarding positions ahead of general boarding. They also board before Early Bird flyers.
These were the basic details and information about the sitting arrangements for your Southwest airlines reservations . If you still have any doubt in your mind about the Southwest Seat Selection fee. You can call the customer care number located on their official website and ask your queries. For more information visit the help desk on the top right corner of the site.
How do I get the best seats on Southwest Airlines?
In the below-mentioned points, here are all the tips that you can follow if you want to get the best seat on your flight with Southwest Airlines
- You can try to check in exactly before 24 hours of the departure of the flight.
- If you holding the A-list elite status, then nobody can stop you from taking the best seat.
- There are several options like early bird check-in, upgraded boarding, or even a ticket that belongs to the Business Select seat.
- Also, you can try for booking the first flight for the day.
How can I find out how many seats are on a Southwest flight?
Who does not want to get the best seats? Of course, everyone. This can be easily done by following a very simple process that has been discussed ahead.
On the official website of southwest airlines, you need to click on the flight number that you are going to board in the near future. You will be able to see all the boxes represented as the different seats available on the plane. The vacant and occupied seats will be shown in a differentiated manner so that the concerned person can easily locate his seat and also can check the availability of seats in an organized manner.
Can you choose your seat on Southwest Wanna Get Away?
You must be wondering whether you are eligible to c hoose your seat on southwest airlines or not. Long story short, yes the passengers who avail SouthWest Wanna Get Away do get a shot to choose their seat on Southwest Airlines. In their terminology, it is called a Cattle Call.
What according to you are the best seats on Southwest Airlines?
If you get a chance to choose your seat on the southwest , you will definitely be choosing it as per your own comfort and relaxation. For instance, if legroom is all that you run after in an airline, then you need to see is the bulkhead region of the flight. Similarly, if you want to go for a recliner’s back, you check the availability of the seats accordingly.
What is the best time that you can choose to select your seat on Southwest Airline?
Keeping in mind the open seating policy offered by SouthWest airlines, there is no specific time as such when you can choose your seat on southwest. This is everything that you need to know about the process of selecting your seat on SouthWest Airlines.
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- 2021-11-09 07:13:06
- How do I buy seats for my Honolulu-Oakland - WN 1063 on Nov 15, 21, 8:20AM - 3:30 PM and San Jose to Honolulu - WN 1458 on Nov 29, 21, 11:45 AM-1:05 PM flights? Kindly advise. Me ke aloha pumehana - with warm aloha.
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Southwest Airlines Says Assigned Seats For Passengers A Possibility
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Southwest Airlines is known for not assigning seats, but that could change in the future — maybe .
“Could we one day need to take back up the assigned-seating question? I think we may have to do that,” Bob Jordan, the airline’s incoming CEO recently said in a Southwest Business virtual town hall meeting, Travel Weekly reports .
Jordan, who previously was the airline’s executive vice president of corporate services and will take over as CEO on February 1, then took pains to note there are no current plans at Southwest to make the change. However, he did say the airline needs to examine whether or not seat assignments could positively impact aircraft turnaround time.
“Just know this: We are committed to continuing to look at our product, making sure it’s relevant,” Jordan said.
Southwest uses unassigned seats as a way to make itself stand out from competitors. Indeed, its slogan is “Pick a seat, any seat.”
“At Southwest, we let you sit where you like,” the airline explains . “We don’t assign seats on our flights, so feel free to sit in any available seat once you board the plane.”
In many respects, Jordan has his work cut out for him.
For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s analysis , Southwest Airlines’ flights were ontime 83.03 percent of the time from July 2019 to July 2021. Conversely, 16.97 percent of Southwest’s flights were late or canceled.
“We need to get back to the point where you can set your watch by the reliability of our operations,” Jordan said.
Toward that end, one of the first priorities for Southwest this year is to hire between 8,000 and 10,000 workers. Jordan says that adding that staff will help the airline get aircraft back in the sky sooner.
Jordan also noted that Southwest expanded its service to 18 new markets and increased service to Hawaii during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Southwest currently uses 120 aircraft to support that expansion, it does have plans to take delivery of 114 aircraft this year.
Even so, it’s going to take a while for the airline to resume frequency levels Southwest experienced before the pandemic.
“It’s going to take into 2023 to restore the network completely back to where we were in 2019,” Jordan said.
For more about airlines’ ontime arrival records, be sure to read The 10 U.S. Airlines With The Most Flight Delays And Cancelations .
If you’d like to learn more about airport arrival records, be sure to read up on the airports with the fewest and most delays and cancelations.
Jim Fulcher has been a writer and editor his entire career. In addition to writing, he also enjoys traveling--particularly in an RV. Over the course of numerous trips, Jim has driven an RV through West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. His favorite national park is Yellowstone, which he has visited three times.
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Incoming Southwest CEO Says Assigned Seats May Be in Airline's Future
Southwest does not currently assign seats but instead gives passengers a boarding group and reserved boarding number when they check in.
Assigned seating may be in Southwest's future, the airline's incoming CEO said at a virtual town hall this week.
The airline, long known for its unique way of doing things, does not currently assign seats but instead gives passengers a boarding group and reserved boarding number when they check in. However, incoming CEO Robert Jordan, who was previously the airline's executive vice president and will officially take the reins in February, said it may be time for a change.
"Could we one day need to take back up the assigned-seating question? I think we may have to do that," Jordan said, per Travel Weekly , adding the airline would look at the impact of seat assignments on things like turnaround time and how important it is to business travelers. "Just know this. We are committed to continuing to look at our product, making sure it's relevant."
But Jordan added the potential move isn't something customers can expect to see in the immediate future. And as for another Southwest mainstay, Jordan said free checked bags aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
Instead, Jordan said the airline will focus on things like providing more reliable Wi-Fi, hiring more workers (which will, in turn, mean more planes in the sky), and restoring full in-flight service.
"We need to get back to the point where you can set your watch by the reliability of our operations," he said, adding, "It's going to take into 2023 to restore the network completely back to where we were in 2019."
Southwest has also added new customer services this year, like allowing passengers traveling back to the United States from international destinations to purchase discounted COVID-19 test kits .
The airline is also known for its Companion Pass program , which allows eligible fliers to designate one other person to fly with them nearly for free.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram .
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How can I check in for my Southwest Airlines (WN) flight?
You may check-in for your Southwest Airlines (WN) flight with the following options:
- Online check-in (Web check-in)
- EarlyBird check-in
- Mobile check-in
- Curbside check-in at the airport
- Self-service kiosk check-in at the airport
- Ticket counter check-in at the airport
Does Southwest Airlines (WN) have online web check-in?
Yes, you may check-in for your Southwest Airlines (WN) flight online starting 24 hours and ending 60 minutes before the scheduled departure time (depending on your departure city and destination) to receive a mobile boarding pass on your mobile device or a printable boarding pass. You may use this option if:
- you have an electronic ticket and the first flight is on Southwest Airlines (WN)
- you may access your reservation with your confirmation code, e-ticket number, or frequent flyer account
- you are not a special needs passenger (for example an unaccompanied minor or traveling with a pet)
Can I check bags with the Southwest Airlines (WN) online web check-in?: No, however, you may check bags at the airport Express Bag Drop kiosks, at the airport ticket counter, or curbside.
Can I pay bag fees with the Southwest Airlines (WN) online web check-in?: No
Can I select or change my seat with the Southwest Airlines (WN) online web check-in?: No, Southwest does not assign seats.
Does Southwest Airlines (WN) offer mobile check-in?
Yes, you may check-in for your Southwest Airlines (WN) flight with your mobile device starting 24 hours and end-ing 60 minutes before the scheduled departure time (depending on your departure city and destination) to receive a mobile boarding pass on your mobile device. You may use this option if:
- you are not a special needs passenger (for example, an unaccompanied minor)
- you are departing from an airport which accepts mobile boarding passes (if not, then you may check-in and print a boarding pass at the self-service kiosk or ticket counter)
- you are not traveling to/from the U S on an international flight.
Does Southwest Airlines (WN) offer curbside check-in? (US Carriers only)
Yes, you may check-in for your U S domestic Southwest Airlines (WN) flight curbside at most U S airport locations from 60 minutes to 3 hours before the scheduled departure time (depending on your departure city and destination). You will need your photo ID and also your flight reservation code, flight number destination, or electronic ticket number to check-in. Please check Southwest Airlines (WN) website for an exact list of participating airports.
Does Southwest Airlines (WN) offer self-service kiosk check-in?
Yes, you may check-in for your Southwest Airlines (WN) flight at applicable airport self-service kiosks from 30 minutes to 3 hours before the scheduled departure time (depending on your departure city and destination) and receive a printed boarding pass.
Can I check bags with the Southwest Airlines (WN) self-service kiosk check-in?: Yes
Can I pay bag fees with the Southwest Airlines (WN) self-service kiosk check-in?: Yes
Can I select or change my seat with the Southwest Airlines (WN) self-service kiosk check-in?: No, Southwest does not assign seats.
Does Southwest Airlines (WN) offer ticket counter check-in?
Yes, you may check-in for your Southwest Airlines (WN) flight at the airport ticket counter from 30 minutes to 3 hours before the scheduled departure time (depending on your departure city and destination) and receive a printed boarding pass.
Can I check bags at the Southwest Airlines (WN) ticket counter check-in?: Yes
Can I pay bag fees at the Southwest Airlines (WN) ticket counter check-in?: Yes
Can I select or change my seat at the Southwest Airlines (WN) ticket counter check-in?: No, Southwest does not assign seats
What is EarlyBird check-in on Southwest airlines (WN)
EarlyBird Check-In automatically checks you in and assigns your position for boarding allowing you to board earlier. There is a $15.00 per segment fee associated with this option. However, as an EarlyBird Check-In customer, you will have a better opportunity to select your preferred seat and have earlier access to overhead bin storage for your carryon luggage. You do not have to take any action to check-in on the day of your flight because it is automatic.
NOTE: Customers who have purchased Business Select fare tickets do not need to select this option because priority boarding privileges are already included. Also, if you purchase an Unaccompanied Minor fare then you should not purchase this option because unaccompanied minors pre-board the flight ahead of passengers in general boarding.
Does Southwest Airlines (WN) charge a fee for a seat assignment?
Southwest Airlines (WN) does not charge a fee for selecting a seat assignment. Southwest does not assign seats.
When do I need to check-in for my Southwest Airlines (WN) flight?
The minimum time to check-in for a Southwest Airlines (WN) flight is:
- 30 minutes before scheduled departure time for US domestic flights
- 60 minutes before scheduled departure time for international flights to/from the US
When do I need to arrive at the airport for my Southwest Airlines (WN) flight?
Suggested arrival time:
- 2 hours before scheduled departure time for US domestic flights
- 3 hours before scheduled departure time for international flights to/from the US
Minimum required check-in time with carry-on baggage baggage:
Minimum required check-in time with checked baggage:
- 60 minutes before scheduled departure time for US domestic flights
When do I need to be at the boarding gate?
Boarding closes at the following times for Southwest Airlines (WN) flights:
- 30 minutes before scheduled departure time for international flights to/from the US
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How to Avoid Paying Airline Seat Fees
See recent posts by Peter Thornton
Sit Anywhere on the Plane for Free
Just as restaurants may ask for an extra fee if you want a special side dish or concert venues may charge more for specific seats rather than general admission, most airlines do charge extra if you want to pick a certain seat. I know this isn’t how it used to be, but Basic Economy is here to stay and this is just simply how the industry has evolved. The good news is that airfares are still historically low and, if you are diligent and don’t need all the frills of yesteryear, you can fly super cheap and sit anywhere (read somewhere) on the plane for free.
Don’t Be Fooled Into Paying to Choose a Seat
Airlines want you to pay extra to choose a seat — even middle seats. This is one reason airlines are able to sell tickets for pennies or across oceans for only a couple hundred dollars. The airlines are making big profits from ancillary fees and do everything possible to keep the actual airfare lower than the competition. As consumers of air travel, we need to be careful to only pay for what we want and not get fooled into paying more than we intend. In my opinion, the seat fee is one of the easiest airline fees to avoid.
It can be confusing when going through the booking steps and you may not even realize an extra seat fee was added by the time you get to the final payment screen. Even if an airline’s website makes it appear that you have to pay extra for a seat, you are never required to choose a specific seat and can always opt to decline seat selection in lieu of a FREE seat assignment during check-in.
Related: Passenger Etiquette: The Basic Rules of the Armrest
Watch for pop-ups and automatic add-ons.
The biggest culprits in trying to force seat selection fees are ultra-low-cost carriers like Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit. None of the fares sold by these airlines include seat selection, but there are certain bundles you can add on, which would include seat assignments. Some legacy airlines have simply made seat selection unavailable for Basic Economy fares and require that you purchase a standard or Main Cabin Economy ticket in order to choose a seat in advance.
Below, I’ll go over specifics on what to look for during the seat selection step when booking on the larger U.S. carriers. These same tactics can be used for international carriers. Just remember, you are never required to pay an extra seat fee.
How to Avoid Seat Fees on Alaska Airlines
Flying Alaska Airlines is one of the easiest ways to avoid a seat fee, because even Alaska’s version of Basic Economy, the “Saver” fare, includes limited free seat assignments at the back of the plane. When choosing seats on the seat map, scroll to the bottom to find seats marked with a “S” for Saver fare seats. Seats shown in a dark blue color are for passengers purchasing a “Main” class fare only so you’ll have to upgrade to that type of fare to choose those seats in advance. If you’re buying a Saver fare and don’t like the choice of seats, simply click on “Skip Seats” and you’ll be assigned seats for free during check-in, which may include seats towards the front of the plane.
How to Avoid Seat Fees on Allegiant Airlines
When the seat selection screen appears on Allegiant’s website, it doesn’t even indicate that there are fees associated with choosing a seat. However, if you do click on a certain seat, a pop-up will appear telling you the price and you’ll have to confirm that you agree. To bypass this and avoid paying a fee, just scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Continue”. You’ll have to do this for both flights if you are booking a roundtrip. Another pop-up will appear warning that you haven’t chosen a seat and asking if it’s ok. Just click “Yes, Continue” and be on your way without caving in to Allegiant’s fear of separation anxiety tactics.
Related: The 10 Best Underseat Carry-On Bags for Basic Economy
How to avoid seat fees on american airlines.
American Airlines does not necessarily try to trick you into paying a seat fee when booking. Its Basic Economy fares do not allow advanced seat selection for domestic or short-haul international flights, and therefore, you simply won’t be shown a seat map when booking a Basic Economy ticket. For transatlantic flights, Basic Economy fares do allow you to choose specific seats during booking for a fee, but prices are clearly displayed on the seat map. To avoid a fee, just click on the small text that reads “skip seats for all flights” and your seats will be assigned for free upon check-in. And if you avoid Basic Economy entirely, you’ll be able to choose seats in advance for any flight when booking a Main Cabin Economy ticket.
How to Avoid Seat Fees on Delta
Delta sells Basic Economy tickets in more markets than any other airline. And while some aspects of Delta’s Basic Economy differ depending on the destination, advanced seat assignments are simply not allowed for any Basic Economy ticket on Delta. Of course, Delta doesn’t want to actually sell its Basic Economy fares. Anytime you select a basic fare, you’ll get a pop-up asking if you’d like to move to Main Cabin Economy fare, which includes seat selection. If you don’t want to pay more, just click on the checkbox that you accept restrictions and then click on the small “Continue with Basic Economy” text to avoid the upcharge. Seats will be assigned for free after check-in.
How to Avoid Seat Fees on Frontier Airlines
Frontier doesn’t really try to mask the fact that you’ll pay to choose a seat. You’ll see prices listed for each seat directly on the seat map. To avoid a fee, scroll to the bottom and click on the green “Continue” button without choosing a seat. A pop-up will then appear and you’ll have to click on the small print “No Thanks, I’ll take whatever.” link to actually continue.
How to Avoid Seat Fees on Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian Airlines now offers a Basic Economy fare. While it’s currently limited to only a few routes between the U.S. mainland and Honolulu, Hawaiian’s “Main Cabin Basic” fare is likely to spread throughout its network eventually. This type of fare does not allow advanced seat assignments but you’ll always be asked to confirm your selection when booking a “Main Cabin Basic” fare. And not just once — a second pop-up appears during the booking process asking “Want to choose your seats?” To avoid the upcharge for a “Main Cabin” ticket, just click “No thanks” and you’ll be able to select seats during check-in.
Related: How to Choose the Best Seat on a Plane
How to avoid seat fees on jetblue.
JetBlue was the latest airline to implement a Basic Economy fare, which it calls " Basic Blue ". This fare requires a fee to choose a specific seat in advance. Be careful, because prices are not listed on the seat map itself. Instead, a price will pop-up when you hover over a seat and are also listed to the left of the seat map. To avoid this fee, simply scroll to the bottom of the seat selection page and look for the text that reads "skip seat selection for now". Click on that link and you'll have the chance to choose a seat from what's still available when you check-in starting 24 hours before departure. If you decide to purchase JetBlue's classic "Blue" fare, advanced seat assignments are included.
How to Avoid Seat Fees on Southwest Airlines
Southwest doesn’t assign seats on any of its flights so you won’t ever pay a seat fee, per say, when flying Southwest. However, it does give the option to add EarlyBird automatic check-in for a fee, which would give you an earlier boarding position and a better choice of seat. Alternatively, set an alarm on your phone to check-in exactly 24 hours before your flight and get a decent boarding position for free.
How to Avoid Seat Fees on Spirit Airlines
Spirit Airlines is very clear and upfront that you’ll be paying a fee to choose a seat. There are prices for each seat on its seat map, but you don’t have to click on any of them. Look for the small print text that says “continue without seats” and click that link to avoid any seat fees. Of course, a pop-up will then appear inducing blatant FOMO (Fear Of Middle Overtone). Just click on the smaller “continue without seats” text again and you can continue without adding any cost to your cheap flight.
Related: Finally! Middle Seats Will Soon Be Larger on Some Airlines
How to avoid seat fees on sun country airlines.
Sun Country is also very upfront with its fees on the seat map. All seats will have a price listed, but it isn’t very clear on this page that you don’t actually need to choose a seat. To avoid a fee, just scroll to the bottom of the page (without clicking on a seat) and click the orange “continue” button. A pop-up will appear saying that your seat selection is not complete. Simply click on the white “continue without all seats” button to finish booking without adding any extra fees.
How to Avoid Seat Fees on United Airlines
United’s Basic Economy fare is the most restrictive of the U.S. legacy carriers, but it does allow advanced seat assignments — for a fee. Since prices are not listed on the seat map until you hover over or select a seat, it can be pretty easy to whisk through this step and add fees to your booking that you did not wish to add. To avoid any extra fees, just click on the grey “Continue to payment” button without choosing any seats. Free seat assignments will be given after check-in. Of course, if you purchase a standard Economy ticket, you’ll be able to choose standard seats for free during booking.
Related: A New Look at Basic Economy for Transatlantic International Travel
There’s a good chance you can sit together without paying a fee.
Choosing to leave seat assignments up to chance is more nerve-racking when you’re traveling with family and friends and want to sit next to each other. While it’s never guaranteed you’ll get seats together, don’t assume that a free seat assignment at check-in will doom you to be separated in middle seats throughout the cabin. Sure, it could happen, but in my experience, and hearing from several others, couples and families are usually still seated together when seats are assigned by the airline for free.
For better odds, I would recommend checking in as early as possible. And if you don’t end up sitting next to your travel companion, it’s not the end of the world. You’ll still get to your destination at the same time and might even enjoy the time to yourself in-flight.
Of course, traveling with small children is a different story and many parents would like to ensure that they will be sitting next to minor children onboard. The Families Flying Together Act calls for any child under the age of 13 to be seated with parents or guardians for no extra charge, but this doesn’t seem to be a concrete law.
To ensure small children are seated next to an adult, the Department of Transportation suggests contacting the airline directly after booking and discussing your situation. Arrive at the airport early and work with the agents to accommodate your family. Airline agents will do everything possible to seat young children next to a family member.
Related: JAL's Seat Map Feature Helps You Avoid Crying Babies on Flights
Book Your Ticket at the Airport
The internet has made booking flights extremely convenient and some airlines have decided to charge a fee for that convenience. I recently booked flights on Frontier and Spirit for a friend and I, in person, at the airport in order to save each airline’s hefty online booking fee. To my surprise, we were also assigned seats next to each other for free at the time of booking. I assumed our seats would be randomly assigned at check-in and never asked for specific seats. But, sure enough, we were given adjacent seats on both flights and even got Frontier’s extra legroom seats assigned for free.
This is not a given, but if you are courteous and friendly with the agent when booking a flight at the airport, you may just find yourself getting free seat assignments in advance. I haven’t tried this with any legacy carriers, but since a human agent has the ability to override the system, you’ll probably have a better chance of getting seats assigned next to each other for free when booking at the airport. I wouldn’t assume that this will happen, but if it’s convenient for you to book at the airport, it’s worth a shot.
Related: How to Avoid Online Booking Fees on Airline Tickets
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Is Southwest EarlyBird Check-In worth it?
Southwest Airlines doesn't have fancy onboard offerings. But it does have a unique boarding process where you are assigned a specific boarding number that determines when you can board the plane. How quickly you get on the plane is important since Southwest uses first-come, first-served seating. The earlier you board, the better seat options you'll have.
Your Southwest boarding assignment will fall in group A, B or C, and you will be assigned a number ranging from 1-60 within that group. While it feels a bit like you are lining up like cattle to board the plane, once you get the hang of it, it isn't that terrible – at least if you have a good boarding group number.
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Checking in at 24 hours won't get you the best boarding group
At the heart of the Southwest boarding system is the concept that you want to check in for your flight exactly 24 hours before departure. After all, Southwest assigns boarding assignments in the order you check in for the flight. However, as with almost everything in the airline industry, it isn't quite that simple.
The coveted first A 1-15 spots go to those who purchase pricier Business Select fares. You can also sometimes upgrade to an A 1-15 boarding spot on the day of travel – but only if Business Select customers don't fill the A 1–15 slots.
However, if you have the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card or Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card , know that each of those cards comes with four upgraded boardings to A 1-15 slots per year. This perk is part of why these cards are some of our favorite Southwest cards for families .
Next in order come those with Southwest A-List or A-List Preferred elite status , as these travelers are automatically assigned a boarding number before the 24-hour mark. Checking in precisely 24 hours before your flight won't get you ahead of those travelers, either.
Finally, there is also the issue of passengers who booked a direct but not nonstop flight . Unless you are on the first flight of the day, there is a reasonable chance some seats on the plane are spoken for by through-passengers before A1 even gets a chance to board. After all, Southwest regularly sells tickets that require stops without plane changes.
Related: How to get seats together as a family on Southwest Airlines
What is Southwest EarlyBird Check-In
Now, let's talk about Southwest EarlyBird Check-In itself. EarlyBird Check-In service allows you to automatically reserve your boarding spot starting 36 hours before your flight.
EarlyBird Check-In serves two obvious purposes. First, it takes out the human element of being too busy or forgetting to check in exactly 24 hours before your first flight. Second, it scores you a boarding assignment that should be better than those still available 24 hours before departure. The closer the boarding pass assignment is to A1, the earlier you board. The earlier you board, the better selection of seats and overhead bins you will have.
EarlyBird Check-In costs $15 to $25 per person per direction of travel. The price varies by flight and represents a real monetary investment if you have multiple people traveling. For our family of four, we would be out up to $200 to use EarlyBird Check-In on a round-trip Southwest journey.
However, note that several Southwest credit cards offer a few EarlyBird Check-Ins on each card anniversary. And EarlyBird Check-In should trigger The Platinum Card® from American Express annual airline fee credit if you have selected Southwest as your airline for the year.
While Southwest has flexible policies for changing your flight, the money you spend on EarlyBird Check-In is not refundable. If you cancel your flight, Southwest doesn't refund your EarlyBird Check-In purchase. If you change your flight at least 25 hours before the original flight's scheduled departure and change to a flight that doesn't depart for at least 25 hours, then the EarlyBird Check-In will transfer as long as the confirmation number remains the same.
Related: Everything you need to know about the best seats on Southwest Airlines
Given all that, is Southwest EarlyBird Check-In worth it?
For some people, this answer will always be no. For example, the exact boarding position isn't all that important to some travelers and some passengers may not be able to afford the extra cost. Meanwhile, some family travelers may be OK with family boarding . After all, Southwest allows "two adults traveling with a child six years old or younger" to board during family boarding.
Family boarding takes place between the A and B groups. So, if your family meets the family boarding criteria, you are helped by having an A boarding pass but not hurt by having a B or C boarding pass.
If you have the budget to consider buying EarlyBird Check-In, it might be worth it in a few cases. First, EarlyBird Check-In might be worth it if the flight you are taking is especially long, making seat selection more valuable, such as on a Southwest flight to Hawaii .
Second, if your family or group must sit all together, and either you don't qualify for family boarding or you are worried there won't be seats that allow all of you to sit together by that time, it could be worth it. It also may be worth it if you know you will be too busy at the 24-hour mark to check yourself in on time. Last but not least, if having EarlyBird Check-In reduces your stress or anxiety about the flight, then that by itself can be worth the cost.
My family occasionally purchases EarlyBird Check-In to make the process of flying Southwest easier, especially on longer segments. However, we don't always buy it because family boarding is often sufficient for getting seats together.
Finally, know that you can purchase EarlyBird Check-In just for one direction of your trip or just for a few travelers. In short, it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing decision. If you only want to purchase EarlyBird Check-In for some travelers, purchase the flights for your entire group and then log in to add EarlyBird Check-In to the existing itinerary for the desired travelers.
Related: How to reprice a Southwest flight when the fare decreases
At $15 to $25 per person each way, Southwest EarlyBird Check-In can be worth the cost. However, it won't always be a slam-dunk deal — especially if family boarding is an option for your group.
If you decide to purchase Southwest EarlyBird Check-In, you can earn bonus points from using the right credit card for the purchase. Or, consider picking up a Southwest credit card if your family enjoys traveling the country (and beyond) on Southwest. Here are the links:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
Each card currently offers a limited time offer where new cardholders can earn Companion Pass® good through 2/28/24 (excludes taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way) plus 30,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. Some of these cards offer a few EarlyBird Check-Ins on each card anniversary.
Otherwise, consider putting your EarlyBird Check-In purchase on a card that reimburses miscellaneous airline fees , such as:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve : $300 travel credit each calendar year.
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card : up to $250 airline fee credit, terms apply.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express : up to $200 airline fee credit, terms apply.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Note that you'll need to enroll before using the airline fee credits on some of these cards.
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- The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
- Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
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Emirates Loses ‘Deceptive Advertising’ Lawsuit After Passenger Complains About Inferior Business Class Seats
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Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant…
Emirates has lost a ‘deceptive advertising’ lawsuit brought by a passenger in New Zealand who convinced a tribunal that the Dubai-based carrier had sold Business Class tickets by advertising newer, more comfortable seats that weren’t routinely available on flights from Aotearoa.
Mark Morgan had chosen to fly with Emirates with his wife for a trip to England, but once onboard the plane to Dubai, Morgan says he discovered that Emirates was using an older Boeing 777-300 aircraft on the route with Business Class seats that didn’t go fully lie-flat.
The inferior Business Class seat also featured an older inflight system that was prone to malfunctioning, according to Morgan’s complaint to New Zealand’s Dispute Tribunal.
Emirates’ official website for the Kiwi market features images of its latest Boeing 777 Business Class seat, which goes fully flat, features deep padding, has a personal minibar and the latest generation of inflight entertainment systems.
Lawyers representing the airline, however, claimed these images and descriptions didn’t amount to deceptive advertising because there is a notice in small print at the bottom of the Emirates website which warns that the products and services advertised could vary from flight to flight.
For the Kiwi market, the airline was routinely using older Boeing 777 aircraft but Emirates claimed this was because flights to New Zealand were loss-making, so it had chosen to deploy older aircraft on these routes.
In any case, Emirates said the Business Class seat on its older Boeing 777s reclined to 166.1 degrees which was effectively a lie-flat seat for the “ordinary traveller”.
Disputes Tribunal referee Laura Mueller refused to accept Emirates’ argument, saying the website warning should only apply to occasional product changes.
“Emirates advertised a business class service that consumers were very unlikely to receive,” Mueller said in her judgment, as reported by Stuff . “This was the result of advertising a service that they were rarely delivering, not due to an occasional or one-off change of aircraft due to operational requirements.”
Mueller ruled that Emirates had breached The Fair Trading Act 1986, saying that the “advertising of a service that Emirates knew would unlikely be delivered is misleading and deceptive.”
Emirates initially offered Morgan a partial refund of just NZ $786, claiming that the service he received was only a 5 per cent reduction in what had been promised in its advertising.
Morgan, however, sought a more generous partial refund, plus a refund for a First Class upgrade fee (for a fully flat seat). The tribunal sided with Morgan and ordered Emirates to refund him NZ $13,555 by March 27.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.
Canadian Budget Carrier Flair Airlines Cancels Flights After ‘Repo Men’ Seize Four Boeing 737MAX Jets in Leasing Dispute
Its not even business class. It is literally everything. I flew at least four times back and fourth and got scammed with super old crappy planes. We pay fortunes to fly with Emirates and we always get scammed. Absolutely unfair. Economy class was horrible. Flying to Europe of course was a different experience since they used the newer planes. My point is hey, its an 18-hour flight, come on…. at least give us comfortable seats.
Pick a different airline it’s not like Emirates is lacking for competition with hubs nearby
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British Airways is to Trial a Pre-Order Service That Will Let Passengers in All Cabins Guarantee Their First Meal Choice
American Airlines Becomes First U.S. Carrier to ‘Guarantee’ Families Can Sit Together For Free… But There Are Catches
Etihad Airways Forced to Suspend Online Check-In For Nine Days As it Updates IT System
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The below chart lists key seat specifications on each Boeing 737 model we fly, including passenger capacity, average pitch*, and seat width. Our aircraft have one aisle and one single cabin with three seats on each side of the aircraft. The first row of seats on each side is bulkhead seating.
You will receive an earlier boarding position, improved seat selection, and earlier access to overhead bins. Please note, for Anytime fares purchased between 36 and 24 hours, the boarding position assignment process has begun so this may impact the boarding position assigned to you.
The similarities largely end there, though, because Southwest's boarding process is truly unlike that of any other airline. The airline has an open seating policy, which means you can sit just about anywhere you want: up front, way in the back or right in the middle. There are no assigned seats — not even at the very front of the plane.
At Southwest, we let you sit where you like. We don't assign seats on our flights, so feel free to sit in any available seat once you board the plane. We have a quick, easy, and efficient boarding process. Look at your boarding pass to find your assigned boarding group (A, B, or C) and boarding position (1 - 60).
Boarding a Southwest aircraft with plenty of open seats. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy) Before we get into specific seating strategies, here are some basics on how the Southwest boarding process works. When you check in for your flight, you are assigned a boarding pass number in one of three groups based on the time you check in: A, B or C.
For Southwest, Seatguru features three aircraft seating charts: Boeing 737 MAX 8, Boeing 737-700 and Boeing 737-800. Make sure the aircraft type you're on matches the result provided by...
Southwest Seat Maps. Boeing 737 MAX 8 (7M8) Overview; Planes & Seat Maps. Boeing 737 MAX 8 (7M8) Boeing 737-700 (737) Boeing 737-800 (738) Check-in; Baggage ... There is no pre-assigned seating for Southwest flights. Your time of check-in will determine whether you are in Zone A, B, or C for boarding. The earlier you board, the better chance ...
If you want more details on Southwest Seat Selection, the cost of selecting a seat, or the entire process, call Southwest Airlines at 1 (800) 435-9792 and get the necessary answers. Why can't I choose my seat on Southwest Airlines? Southwest Airlines does not allow passengers to choose their seats for various reasons.
Southwest Airlines has a unique open seating policy - basically, seats are not assigned. When you check in for your Southwest flight, you are assigned a boarding group. Your boarding group and position determine the order in which you will be allowed to board the flight. Upon boarding the flight, you may choose any open seat.
Southwest Airlines has an open seating policy. Seats are not assigned ahead of time, rather passengers are assigned a boarding group, A, B, or C, and a boarding position, 1-60. The boarding group and position determine when you board the plane, and thus how many seats you will be able to choose from. The whole thing used to be a true free for all.
The Southwest Airlines boarding process is different because they don't assign seats. However, it's not a free for all — there is a specific system that you'll need to follow to board the plane. Then once you are on board, you can choose any available seat that you want. The Southwest Airlines Boarding Process [Detailed]
The price for the seat is around $30 or $40 per flight that depends on the itinerary. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards members with A-List are desired status. These members are usually automatically given boarding positions ahead of general boarding. They also board before Early Bird flyers.
This is standard on Southwest. All seats are available to you. What you get is a boarding order and you get on the plane in that order. When you are on, you pick whatever seat, wherever you want on the plane. The boarding order is A1-60, then B1-60, then C1-60. The lower your boarding number the more choices you'll have when on the plane.
Southwest uses unassigned seats as a way to make itself stand out from competitors. Indeed, its slogan is "Pick a seat, any seat." "At Southwest, we let you sit where you like," the airline explains. "We don't assign seats on our flights, so feel free to sit in any available seat once you board the plane." Moving Forward
Published on January 21, 2022. Assigned seating may be in Southwest's future, the airline's incoming CEO said at a virtual town hall this week. The airline, long known for its unique way of doing ...
Southwest Airlines (WN) does not charge a fee for selecting a seat assignment. Southwest does not assign seats. When do I need to check-in for my Southwest Airlines (WN) flight? The minimum time to check-in for a Southwest Airlines (WN) flight is: 30 minutes before scheduled departure time for US domestic flights;
How to Avoid Seat Fees on Southwest Airlines. Southwest doesn't assign seats on any of its flights so you won't ever pay a seat fee, per say, when flying Southwest. However, it does give the option to add EarlyBird automatic check-in for a fee, which would give you an earlier boarding position and a better choice of seat.
Southwest doesn't have seating assignments. It's "open seating," meaning you choose any available seat when you board the plane. The boarding order is based (basically) on the order you've checked in online, beginning at 24 hours prior to departure.
With Southwest's open seating policy, you will be assigned a boarding group (A, B or C) and position within that boarding group (1 through 60-plus) at check-in. Essentially, ... Seat assignments start at $5 per person per segment and vary by route and seat location in the aircraft. You can purchase your seat assignment at the time of purchase ...
How quickly you get on the plane is important since Southwest uses first-come, first-served seating. The earlier you board, the better seat options you'll have. Your Southwest boarding assignment will fall in group A, B or C, and you will be assigned a number ranging from 1-60 within that group.
Emirates has lost a 'deceptive advertising' lawsuit brought by a passenger in New Zealand who convinced a tribunal that the Dubai-based carrier had sold Business Class tickets by advertising newer, more comfortable seats that weren't routinely available on flights from Aotearoa. Mark Morgan had chosen to fly with Emirates with his wife for a trip…